Honest, colorful account of free-wheeling adventures and self-exploration.

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MEMORY OF A VAGABOND

In this first installment of a planned two-part memoir, Rapoport details his journeys hitchhiking across America, sailing in the Bahamas and working in the Honduras after dropping out of grad school.

In 2010, 23-year-old Rapoport told his parents he was dropping out of his Boston grad school, where he studied Chinese medicine, so he could “be a vagabond and travel the planet by any means necessary.” Hitting the road from hometown Virginia Beach, he traveled west with only a backpack, $700 and a cellphone. He met up with other “road kids,” did dumpster diving, ate and stayed in homeless shelters, etc. He connected with many strangers and various friends en route, then arrived in the Los Angeles area. There, he met a con man who convinced him to buy bikes for them to travel to San Diego for boating jobs. The man ditched him close to that city, which Rapoport saw as karma for not returning an extra $98 in change received earlier in his travels. He eventually got his wished-for boating gig with a man named Randal, bringing an investor’s sailboat from Florida to the Caribbean. Randal was older and hard-drinking, with a warrant out for assault, but he knew his stuff, and the men largely got along. After the boat’s mast collapsed near San Salvador, the duo shifted to working for a parasailing operation in the Honduras, where Rapoport celebrated his 24th birthday and this first installment ends. Debut author Rapoport certainly lived out a Beat fantasy, and this travelogue offers a fascinating peek into the various offbeat characters and subcultures to be found in life on the road. Admirably, he doesn’t hide his material advantages, being up front about the times that friends and family provided some assistance. Rapoport’s table of contents, which organizes 47 chapters within three sections (hitchhiking, Florida/Bahamas, Honduras), is a helpful road map in tracking his extensive journeys. While his account is rather lengthy, Rapoport still creates suspense for the next installment, given his intriguing hints about upcoming spiritual experiences and a possible reconciliation with the girlfriend he left behind in Boston.

Honest, colorful account of free-wheeling adventures and self-exploration.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1483417479

Page Count: 498

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2014

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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