It usually happens like this: page 234, "Joshua Archibald Meatcakes then went on to the Bendigo goldfields where he performed with Herr. Schtumpschmaker (1814-1891) who played the violin. The footnote attached to the German fiddler will then say soemthing fo this nature:
"Herr. Mincefondle Von Schtumpschmaker (1814-1891) Native of Cologne. Studied the violin under Noodlepuddle in Leipzig"
Why am I being told this? What possible bearing does this coupling have upon Mr. Meatcakes? If there is a reason, why am I not shown it, or at least if not shown it, why am I not given a delicious detour regarding Schtumpschmaker. I don't mind being waylaid in a text if the scenery is nice and the information is engaging. Authors have lost, in fact, positively jettisoned the art of the anfractuous narrative with regard to biographies. Editors quake in their boot, wishing to confine the reader to just the subject and no more. Biographies are more than just railroads for facts and dates. They should be pleasant affairs infused with the vanilla of affection for the subject and the environment in which they find themselves such as Kurt Ganzl's hard bound affection on Willie B. Gill the broadway stalwart about whom most of us knew nothing.
A biography should be an astronomers map of not only planets, moons and orbits, but constellations, nodes, far-off stars and others comets of interest. It should be RICH. I research just this way and it takes me longer but the stuff that I find is richer. It is damaskene and gossip, fact and fondant. Yummy.