A nostalgic, rueful, and sometimes sweetly funny collection.

THE ADVENTURES OF FORM AND CONTENT

ESSAYS

Digressive, impressionistic musings on love, loss, and “the multiselves we all carry inside.”

When he was a boy, poet and essayist Goldbarth (Creative Writing/Wichita State Univ.; Selfish: Poems, 2015, etc.) was thrilled by a publishing gimmick promoted by Ace Books: for 35 cents, science-fiction fans could buy two books in one, “each upside down to the other, each with its independent enticing cover and title page.” Goldbarth uses this “topsy-turvying” for his latest collection of previously published essays, but since both sides have the same cover, containing essays not thematically or stylistically different, his choice, though obviously an homage, seems puzzling. More logical was his plan to publish an Ace Double with a life of Keats on one side and a life of Clyde Tombaugh—a self-taught astronomer who discovered 29,000 galaxies, 3,196 asteroids, 1,800 variable stars, 2 comets, and the planet Pluto—on the other. As it is, Goldbarth tells both stories in “Two Characters in Search of an Essay,” an imaginative juxtaposition of two lives focused on, and guided by, a quest to transcend mundane reality. The author shares that quest: “I want to write a poem that’s good enough to endure beyond my own bodily life,” he confesses; “I want to work at a marriage that’s finally larger and more luminous than either I or my wife as individuals.” Love—between Keats and Fanny Brawne, for example, or Goldbarth and his wife—occupies his thoughts, as does the mirroring of past and present. He muses on lust in “Roman Erotic Poetry,” which juxtaposes the love poems of Catullus with the “con-, recom-, and uncombining” of friends and colleagues: Martha and Arthur, who have split up; and Sweet and Danny, who seem obviously in love—obvious to everyone but themselves. “We are so royally screwed up, we human beings,” concludes the author, whose tone ranges from poetic and literary to slapdash and colloquial, which can make for jarring reading.

A nostalgic, rueful, and sometimes sweetly funny collection.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55597-761-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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