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Wednesday Morning Roundup

by Stephen Becker 16 Jan 2013 7:35 AM

Today in the roundup: Reviewing Stage West’s ‘Gabriel,’ book bits and the benefits of picking up an instrument young.


SEND ME AN ANGEL: In Stage West’s Gabriel, an unconscious man is dragged to the shore of a German-occupied English island during WWII. Just who this guy is – and how he affects the family that rescues him – is the subject of the play. And the critics say go see it. “With a tight ensemble and with direction that moves with quiet musicality, Stage West’s Gabriel is a little heaven-sent gift,” Mark Lowry writes on “The play explores the nature of recollection, personal truth, identity, evil, and poetry, as well as the lengths that people will go to in the face of a dehumanizing war,” M. Lance Lusk writes on Front Row. “These are heady themes to be sure, and ones that the show weaves in seamlessly to a dense, yet satisfying plot.” Catch it through Feb. 10.

BOOK BITS: The accolades keep coming for Dallas author Ben Fountain. On Monday, he learned that his Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. ( … San Antonio is set to launch the nation’s first bookless public library system. (

AN EARLY START: It’s a pretty universally accepted idea that the younger you start something like playing a musical instrument or learning a new language, the easier time you will have picking up. So why is that? A new study of young musicians shows that those who started lessons before age 7 had more extensive wiring and connectivity in the brain. “What we’re showing is that early starters have some specific skills and accompanying differences in the brain, but these things don’t necessarily make them better musicians,” Christopher Steele, who lead the study, tells “Musical performance is about skill, but it is also about communication, enthusiasm, style and many other things we don’t measure. So while starting early may help you express your genius, it won’t make you a genius.”