A treat for armchair travelers and bookish Francophiles.


American and English writers respond—most, exultantly—to la belle France and its possibilities.

Editor Powers (Ireland in Mind, 2000, etc.) has the right idea: to let mostly good, mostly familiar authors offer their English-speaking compatriots insight into another country. In this instance, she gathers selections from the usual suspects (Lawrence Durrell, F. Scott Fitzgerald), from writers associated with France but not often anthologized in that context (James Baldwin, Mary McCarthy), and from authors better known for their portrayals of other cultures (Robert Louis Stevenson, Edith Wharton). Most of her 33 selections are sound, or at least defensible, though including the likes of Peter Mayle and David Sedaris seems more a bow to commerce than to art. But there is art aplenty here, and even some surprises. One is an excerpt from the travel diaries of Ezra Pound, who walked across southwestern France in 1912, on the trail of his beloved troubadours, and has seldom sounded better: “Whether it is a haze of heat or whether it is only the effect of sunlight & of great distance, I do not know, but there come with these mts, as the sun lowers, a colour at once metallic & oriental, as of a substance both dim & burnished.” Another is a letter from 18th-century novelist Tobias Smollett, who wonders how it is that Lyons could have been promoted as a healthful retreat, seeing as it is “very hot in summer, and very cold in winter; therefore I imagine must abound with inflammatory and intermittent disorders in the spring and fall of the year.” Still another standout is a selection from James Fenimore Cooper; though strongly associated with New York and the American West, he lived in France for a decade and marvels here that in this civilized nation a person could rent an apartment that comes with furniture—and, even better, catch a glimpse of a woman’s knees.

A treat for armchair travelers and bookish Francophiles.

Pub Date: March 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-71435-9

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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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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