A fruitful discussion of authorship.

READ REVIEW

WRITERS ON WRITING

CONVERSATIONS WITH ALLEN MENDENHALL

A collection of question-and-answer sessions that offer in-depth insights into the writing craft.

Mendenhall (The Southern Philosopher, 2017), the editor of the Southern Literary Review, has long been drawn to interviews with creatives and artists—an interest that he’s fueled over the years by perusing the hallowed archives of the Paris Review. As an associate dean at the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he’s also highly aware of the various ways in which “people respond differently to probing inquiry.” However, one never gets the sense that the 46 writers he interviews in this book are being put on the stand; on the contrary, Mendenhall’s lines of questioning are subtle, and he successfully fulfills his stated intention of letting “the writers do the talking.” This collection will familiarize readers with the approaches, techniques, and concerns of a diverse set of authors in a broad range of genres. Mendenhall’s interviewees include crime-fiction writer D.J. Donaldson, historical-romance novelist F. Diane Pickett, and (twice) poet and essayist Julia Nunnally Duncan, among many others. The Q-and-A’s touch on a spectrum of issues and offer rich and varied discussion as well as powerful sound bites. Memoirist Robert P. Waxler, for instance, offers compelling commentary on the importance of books in a world increasingly dominated by “screen culture”: “Screens invite us to watch, to surf the current that pulls us along. By contrast, books, especially literature…slow us down, offer an opportunity…to become self-reflective.” Historical novelist Steve Wiegenstein speaks of the exhilaration of writing: “It’s the closest I’ll ever get to walking the high wire.” And YA novelist Colleen D. Scott writes of her desire to expose the impact of social segregation: “I fear that lately we are showing the signs that we might forget how important it is to recognize our similarities and cherish our differences.” A foreword by author and Mississippi State University professor Robert West, which ponders the construction and meanings of the words “discover” and “interview,” is mildly interesting, if superfluous. Overall, though, this is a delightfully engaging collection that will educate and inspire other writers.

A fruitful discussion of authorship.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73273-832-4

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Red Dirt Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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