Often overwrought and ostentatious—like a love letter, which of course it is.

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THE DELIGHTED STATES

A BOOK OF NOVELS, ROMANCES & THEIR UNKNOWN TRANSLATORS, CONTAINING TEN LANGUAGES, SET ON FOUR CONTINENTS, & ACCOMPANIED BY MAPS, PORTRAITS, SQUIGGLES, ILLUSTRATIONS, & A VARIETY OF HELPFUL INDEXES

A brash, well-read British novelist contemplates the history of his craft, the nature of artistic influence, the complexities of translation and the literary lint caught in the convolutions of his own (figurative) navel.

In a work that has nearly as many chapters as pages (not to mention its numerous “volumes,” “books,” illustrations, indexes and other flotsam), Thirlwell (Politics, 2003) expands an interesting essay into a tedious tome. He rounds up many of the usual suspects here: Cervantes, Joyce, Nabokov, Tolstoy, Flaubert, Hemingway, Kafka, Diderot, Pushkin, Bellow and Proust. Also appearing are some unusual suspects: the French Édouard Dujardin, Italian Italo Svevo, Czech Bohumil Hrabal and Polish Witold Grombrowicz. The author challenges conventional wisdom throughout. Translations do work, he declares, even bad ones; the style can emerge despite inaccuracies and infelicities. Thirlwell can turn an effective phrase of his own now and then. The novel, he avers, is an “international mongrel”; he calls his own effort “a description of a milky way, an aurora borealis.” His scholarship is impressive. He appears to have read about everything worth reading (and lots not-so-worth reading) and to be aware of the various coincidences that make literary history both appealing and puzzling. He shows us Joyce sitting in a Paris lecture by Nabokov; we see the volumes of Diderot on Pushkin’s bookshelves. If Thirlwell finds enormous relevance in small essays published in tiny periodicals, he also has the wisdom not to mistake the ripple on the river for the river itself. He climbs to a high vantage point, shows us the river’s twisting course, the places where it’s overflowed its banks and the distant horizon where it disappears into the unknown.

Often overwrought and ostentatious—like a love letter, which of course it is.

Pub Date: April 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-13722-9

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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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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