The ambivalence of pen-toting expatriates is Zwerdling’s absorbing subject. And those expats are well known indeed: the Americans Henry Adams, Henry James, Erza Pound, and T.S. Eliot, all of whom found themselves while living in London. Zwerdling (Literature/Univ. of Calif., Berkeley; Virginia Woolf and the Real World, 1986) examines a transitional moment in writing lives spent abroad for their revelations of character. The strength of the author’s narrative lies in his recognition of bad luck, frustration, and failure as important themes, especially when apparent disappointments help win the writer-protagonist what he most seems to want. Namely, for James —the claim to a European, supranational identity,— which, Zwerdling points out, —offends every natural constituency.— James achieved the coveted identity, but was then lamentably misunderstood both by Americans and by his adoptive English audience. The consequences? His —bitter withdrawal to the coterie.— In fact, despite their triumphs, all four expatriate writers have left troubled legacies, and this is another strong suit of Zwerdling’s: his ability to observe without melodrama the conflicts that were innate in each author’s ideal of victory abroad. The portrait of Eliot is particularly shrewd. Regardless of his enormous success in England as a writer, editor, critic, and arbiter, —despite Eliot’s estrangement from America and eagerness to leave, he finds no adequate substitute in the improvised life he constructs abroad.— That is, he remains unhappily American—and half erased by his own hand. Although Zwerdling’s introductory chapters discussing broader cultural Anglo-American competition and attempted reconciliation are too discursive and extended to launch the book with the brio that it needs, his clarity and concision elsewhere give readers the guidance they require in following sometimes wayward footsteps. —Being a citizen of the world might only be a glamourous name for homelessness.— Agreed. (8 pages photos, not seen)
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").
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)