Sometimes shocking, usually smart, always entertaining.

AA GILL IS AWAY

Vitriol, humor and lashings of insight as British columnist Gill visits a smorgasbord of far-flung places.

Television critic for the Times of London, Gill moonlights as a travel-writer whenever he gets a chance. Here he applies his trademark acerbity to places rather than programs as he roves from famine-devastated southern Sudan to the site of an environmental disaster in Uzbekistan. Gill possesses the journalist’s trademark blend of cynicism and tenderheartedness, but in his hands, the old pairing sings. He can take a bit of tired, disgusting status quo—the dire pharmaceutical shortages in Africa, for example—and whip up a story full of elegant sentences with a fresh, potent sting. “Environmental disaster” doesn’t convey much, but horror is born anew when Gill visits the salt flats that used to be the Aral Sea, drained through a combination of communism and stupidity (the author would argue that this is a redundancy). His portrait of the Dinka as they wait in line for food is painfully vivid. Not all of the essays focus on human cruelty and idiocy as manifested across the globe, however; Gill also shares a stunning little piece about a tropical storm in the Kalahari and an uproarious account of the time he wrote and directed a pornographic film in Los Angeles. He starts by revealing his methods: Don’t take notes, don’t stay too long, don’t do research. “My sort of journalism is all about the surface of things,” he states. It would be wise to keep this in mind when reading his political analysis, or his merciless flaying of Japan and its culture. But Gill’s readers are accustomed to his style, and when Monte Carlo is compared to a “sewage outlet,” it hardly seems that he’s taking on a defenseless foe.

Sometimes shocking, usually smart, always entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-7667-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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