RIMBAUD IN ABYSSINIA

By age 20, when he mysteriously renounced his poetic career without publishing a single volume, Rimbaud had created a body of poetry that many still consider perfect; at age 27, after a brief life of wandering in Europe, he went to North Africa, where he amassed a small fortune in trading guns and coffee. At the same age, though a century later, Borer, a French Rimbaud specialist, accompanied by a TV crew filming a documentary of Rimbaud's last ten years, followed Rimbaud's footsteps—producing along with the film this fascinating, bewildering, and innovative study. Joining the great array of ``Rimbaudians,'' as Borer calls them—the many writers, from the poet's own sister to Enid Starkie and Henry Miller, whom Rimbaud inspired—Borer explores the puzzles and eccentricities of Rimbaud: his fascination with evil; his sensuality; his iconoclasm and rage; his experiments with drugs, love, religion; his restlessness; his crimes—he had a police record in every country he visited and provoked Paul Verlaine, his lover whom he tortured with knives, into shooting him. Despising convention, courtesy, morality (``a weakness of the brain''), glorifying evil and excess, Rimbaud became a permanent symbol of adolescent rebellion before literally escaping from his own identity as the ``visionary'' that he described in the one book he published during his life, an autobiography of his own mind called A Season in Hell. Borer searches for the vestiges of this identity in the adventurer-entrepreneur Rimbaud became—and, in the process, finds the poet in himself. An odd combination of Rimbaud himself, his words and his experiments with form, and the assertive, fragmentary style of the TV documentary on which the book is based—a very challenging read for those uninitiated in Rimbaud and ``Rimbaudrary.'' The translation must have been a trial: What to make of ``his bulimia for reading remained unsated''?

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-07594-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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