Stark, Steven D. 1951-
Stark, Steven D. 1951-
Agent—Writers Representatives, Inc., 116 W. 14th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10011.
Journalist and writer. Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, lecturer on law, 1983-95; Boston Phoenix, Boston, MA, columnist, 1985-90; Boston Globe, Boston, columnist, 1990-94. Commentator for National Public Radio, 1992—, and for Voice of America, 1995—.
Glued to the Set: The Sixty Television Shows and Events That Made Us Who We Are, Free Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Writing to Win: The Legal Writer: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies in Court and in the Office that will Make Your Case and Win It, Main Street Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Shook Youth, Gender, and the World, HarperEntertainment (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly and New York Times.
Journalist Steven D. Stark, a well-known commentator for National Public Radio and a frequent author of magazine articles, published his first book, Glued to the Set: The Sixty Television Shows and Events That Made Us Who We Are, in 1997. Given the national attention focused on the book, including extensive excerpts in periodicals such as USA Today and American Heritage, Stark's perceptive understanding of the communications media drew praise from critics and readers alike.
The basic premise of Glued to the Set is best explained by its subtitle. Through discussion of sixty seminal television broadcasts, including regular weekly series and special events such as the telecast of President John F. Kennedy's funeral, Stark argues that television is more than just a reflection of the society by whom it is viewed. On the contrary, he argues, television itself often wields the power to shape its viewers. Seemingly benign programming like The Dating Game and The Gong Show, for example, actually taught their audiences that gawking at others' fumbles was acceptable. This, in turn, plowed the ground for the sensationalist tabloid shows that proliferated during the 1990s. The fast-moving Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, which aired between 1968 and 1973, conditioned an entire generation of TV viewers to respond to the short vignettes that compose much of adult prime time and children's programming of today, reducing society's collective attention span in the bargain.
Michiko Kakutani, reviewing the work in the New York Times Book Review, hailed Glued to the Set for its serious look at a potentially lightweight topic, calling it "a tough, perceptive and highly entertaining cultural history." Praising Stark's thorough yet accessible style, the critic noted that although several of the book's points had been made by others: "Stark … has pulled them together in this volume to give the lay reader an appreciation of the myriad ways in which television reflects our changing world." However, Kakutani did take issue with what he perceived as Stark's oversimplification of some serious charges, such as the author's suggestion that the popular situation comedy All in the Family spawned a nationwide wave of restlessness in the 1970s. Still, the critic continued, writing that "the reader may quibble with Mr. Stark's selection of shows in this volume," but Kakutani added that "Glued to the Set could well prove to be one of the best television surveys around."
Stark's next book, Writing to Win: The Legal Writer: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies in Court and in the Office that will Make Your Case and Win It, focuses more on the process of legal writing than on grammatical and style issues. "The strength of Writing to Win lies in the perspective the reader gains both on the process of legal writing and its various genres," wrote C. Edward Good in Trial. Good went on to note: "This is not the stuff of law school training in the art of legal writing. And that's what makes it so good." In a review in the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, Beverly Ray Burlingame called the writing guide "practical and thought-provoking." Burlingame also wrote that the author's "own comments are generally original and provocative—sometimes even controversial. Instead of focusing single-mindedly on legal writing, Stark provides related insights into lawyers, law practice, ethics, and popular culture."
Much like he did in his book Glued to the Set, Stark looks at the impact of a cultural phenomenon with Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Shook Youth, Gender, and the World. Instead of a standard biography, the book looks not only at the history of the four Beatles but also at both the cultural trends that led to the Beatles becoming a success and how the rock band from Liverpool, England, influenced society. "Money, anger, culture shock, generational conflict—these are some of the themes Stark addresses, though always against the context of the band's music," wrote Gregory McNamee, in the Hollywood Reporter. McNamee also noted: "Improbably, given the amount of ink already devoted to the subject, Stark finds fresh things to say about some of their best-known songs." Noting that Stark "provides a thorough biography of the band," a Publishers Weekly contributor added: "Throughout, Stark is sharp and insightful." Lloyd Jansen wrote in the School Library Journal that the author's "work explores the whys, an avenue of approach that has been sorely lacking in the vast Beatles literature.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Shook Youth, Gender, and the World, p. 1558.
Hollywood Reporter, June 30, 2005, Gregory McNamee, review of Meet the Beatles, p. 8.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of Meet the Beatles, p. 409.
Library Journal, May 15, 2005, Lloyd Jansen, review of Meet the Beatles, p. 120.
New York Times Book Review, June 6, 1997, Michiko Kakutani, review of Glued to the Set: The Sixty Television Shows and Events That Made Us Who We Are, p. B31.
Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2005, review of Meet the Beatles, p. 48.
Scribes Journal of Legal Writing, January 1, 1998, Beverly Ray Burlingame, review of Writing to Win: The Legal Writer: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies in Court and in the Office That Will Make Your Case and Win It, p. 78.
Trial, August, 2000, C. Edward Good, review of Writing to Win, p. 72.
OldSpeak,http://www.rutherford.org/Oldspeak/ (November 30, 2005), John W. Whitehead, "How the Beatles Changed the World: An Interview with Steven D. Stark."