Codrescu (English/Louisiana State Univ.), prolific author and NPR journalist, treats us to a 12-day idiosyncratic vacation 90 miles and a world apart from the US. The pope’s visit to Cuba early last year was the provocation. Not to be influenced by the papal presence, Codrescu (Hail, Babylon: In Search of the American City at the End of the Millennium, 1998. etc.), with his NPR team, beat His Holiness by several days to the “laboratory of pre-post-communism.” Our man in Havana found the capital to be in physical decay and the population largely intriguing and warm, from the spellbinding, soothsaying Babalaos to the street-smart teenage hustlers. From the cafes in Havana to the mysterious lairs of Santiago de Cuba, he can report that reverence for the Maximum Leader is less than sweeping. The “Querido Commandante Che Guuevara” song, however, is quite prevalent. Afro-Cuban religiosity, rum and dollars are more popular than socialism, and venery apparently tops all the charts. Codrescu, of course, comes by his dubiety of things Marxist quite naturally, having spent his tender ye+ars in the Romania of Ceausescu. Also natural to him is a felicitous style. There’s the distinct aroma of gonzo mixed with dialectics and a pinch of Swiss Family Perelman, but it’s all Codrescu. People take precedence over plot. (A set-up about trouble with a picture album never pays off). The author and his crew meet a variety of folk whom he invests with appeal. The octogenarian comic Al Lewis and the great El Duque Hernandez bracket snapshots of boys selling Cohibas and girls selling pleasant tarriance. The text is punctuated by photos by David Graham and poetry composed collectively by Codrescu’s pilgrims. As with the best of the travel genre, the tour is personal and selective. It’s often engaging and enlightening, too. A natural-born journalist provides an entertaining, under-the-covers tour. (16 pages color photos, 40 b&w photos).

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-19831-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?


With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet