A charming, often funny series of remembrances.


A collection of autobiographical stories that charts a man’s meandering search for new experiences and ideas.

Author Kaufman is a committed purveyor of ideas, apparently having inherited from his Polish grandfather an insatiable inventiveness. That love of ideas is both born out of and expressed through a peripatetic wandering: the author traversed the globe, visiting Tel Aviv, New York, Italy, Iran, Germany, Ecuador. The book often reads like a travelogue, providing astute commentary on this or that destination. In one memorable analysis, Kaufman notes that the appeal of New Orleans’ French Quarter stems from its unique fusion of revelry and danger. The prose is fairly straightforward, so the narrative hinges on a life very interestingly lived. Kaufman’s life does not disappoint; the book brims with lines like this: “Growing up in the forties in the then Palestine, on the fringes of the Middle East and North African battles in World War II, was exciting if you were a kid.” The tales occur in patchwork fashion, eschewing a full, linear account of the author’s life, but the upside is each chapter can stand alone. Much of the writing is lighthearted and even comical—one story is written from the perspective of a dog—but it still tackles more serious topics like poverty and the pursuit of artistic fulfillment. In one entry, Kaufman’s family repeatedly pawned and rescued a set of silver candlesticks in response to financial distress. Though enamored of their beauty, he came to resent them for what they ultimately symbolized—his family’s precarious circumstances. In another, he won the admiration of a general in Veracruz for recommending that he supply a reception with portable toilets. Later in the collection, he tenderly describes his newborn granddaughter as that “beautiful, sweet, delicately perfect little thing.” The author of several books, Kaufman (The Precipice Option, 2013) is adept at recounting the universality of the idiosyncratic elements of his life; each vignette expresses a general truth about human nature. For example, his obsessive traveling, and the book as a whole, evokes the restless search for meaning that, to some extent, motivates us all.

A charming, often funny series of remembrances.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0692402771

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Intervale Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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



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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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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