This account features an important perspective on a volatile moment of American history, but fails to showcase some of its...

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LOSING MY COUNTRY, KEEPING MY SOUL

In this debut memoir, a writer narrates his last summer before being drafted and the staggering choice he soon faced.

During the summer of 1967, all that Glass and his best friend, Keith, cared about were plans to travel up the East Coast while surfing beaches from Miami to New York. The Vietnam War was nothing more than a topic to be avoided around parents and certain friends. After buying an antique hearse, the two became temporary local celebrities before eventually setting off in a VW that Keith stole in a momentary act of teenage rebellion. They made their way through parties, diners, and girls across the mid-Atlantic, before meeting the beautiful Barbara, who ended up becoming Glass’ girlfriend. Then he received news that due to slipping grades and skipped classed, he would be drafted. Suddenly without a future, Glass headed into basic training in South Carolina and then to a base on the West Coast, but with no surfing in the sun as he had often dreamed. At this point, more than halfway through the account, the memoir finally reveals itself to be the exciting recollections of a deserter. For months, he slipped in and out of the Army bureaucracy and jail as he struggled with the idea of abandoning the base for the counterculture of San Francisco before making a final, life-changing decision. Glass skillfully captures the tense mood among forced recruits, watching those who resisted get dragged away. He also explores abuse at the Presidio with great care, narrating a near uprising among soldiers. Unfortunately, the work’s first half weighs down this intriguing material. Details of beaches and cars and stiff dialogue take up far too much space. (Most exchanges do not advance plot or character development: “I can’t believe we are finally going!” “This car really has a lot more power than my old one.”) By the thrilling, but far too abrupt conclusion, it is clear that the book has left some great opportunities on the side of the road.

This account features an important perspective on a volatile moment of American history, but fails to showcase some of its best moments.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2733-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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