ARCANUM 17

Another never-before-translated volume by the famous surrealist, from the translator who, along with Bill Zavatsky, recently won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month-Club translation award for Breton's Earthlight. Taking its title from the Star card in the Tarot deck, this heavily annotated 1944 work is extremely dense, difficult to read and to categorize—it combines poetry, memoir, philosophy, a journal, social commentary (criticizing France and the rest of Europe from the safe harbor of America and Canada), a cautionary tale, mysticism (verging on automatic writing), and a political treatise. As in his better-known novel Nadja, Breton turns woman into myth, endowing her with dreamlike, superhuman qualities. Written for (and inspired by) his third wife, Elisa, these ramblings are haunted on a large scale by the shadow of WW II and on a small scale by personal loss. (One bond between Breton and Elisa, if we are to believe surrealist authority Anna Balakian's introduction, was that both had lost a child: he to divorce, she to drowning.) The theme of Arcanum 17, not stated directly until its final page, is the Utopian quest for ``light,'' which ``can only be known by way of three paths: poetry, liberty, and love.'' Breton appended three ``Apertures'' to the text in 1947 in an attempt to make it more accessible. He begins with an apology for his ``polemical fervor'' in the earlier work, but these three pieces are even more polemical, if only because they are more straightforward. He expounds upon elements that his readers found difficult three years before: war, surrealist love, and a friend's account of a chance (most likely preordained) meeting. Truly an unusual work, elegantly translated. Whether readers will be any more receptive to it now than they were 50 years ago remains to be seen.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 1994

ISBN: 1-55713-170-8

Page Count: 148

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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