Ordinary folks tell ordinary—and sometimes extraordinary—stories in this sparkling anthology of essays culled from live, spoken-word performances.
Debut editors Silverman and Bravo include 60 nonfiction pieces from “Bar Flies,” their live storytelling series, which they’ve hosted in a Phoenix, Arizona, bar since 2015. As in “The Moth” and similarly anecdotal shows, the fare consists of short, first-person essays—each a few pages long in the text—focusing on tidbits of memoir, family histories, character sketches, and shaggy dog anecdotes; the latter is exemplified byDeborah H. Sussman’s piquant portrait of her border collie, Henry, and the Frisbee games that he apparently played with a ghost. Other highlights beguilingly run the gamut of emotion, including Amy L. Young’s truly raucous account of a meth-fueled Christmas, capped by a theft of oyster stuffing (“That fishy, mushy bread was FUCKING MAGICAL”); Amanda Kate Kehrberg’s droll look at a Dragon Con fantasy convention (“When I watch ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ I know I should feel more fear at the dark vision of a fascist state, but I can’t help envy government regulated, monochromatic wardrobes”); and Cindy Dach’s engagingly wry memories of family wisdom (“When I was 11, my grandmother told me that I should not be a virgin on my wedding night because that would be a terrible time to find out that my husband did not know what he was doing”). Also notable are Salvador Lee Bravo’s nerve-wracking account of an odyssey through Ukraine, Stacy Pearson’s self-lacerating retrospective on her public relations work for a businessman facing #MeToo allegations, and James A. Ahlers’ anguished narrative of his wife’s troubled pregnancy. Overall, readers will find that the collection has real literary quality—and the ring of hard-won, homespun truth.
A charming set of tales that’s funny, heartwarming, and haunting, by turns.
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)