Fans will delight in another window into Codrescu's shrewd and quirky mind - his confession of AOL addiction, his thoughts...




Novelist, poet, professor, and NPR commentator Codrescu (Hail Babylon!, 1998, etc.) brings his eclectic interests and unique slant to good, evil, and much, much more in this millennial collection of his latest essays.

Using Armageddon as a launching pad, Codrescu first puts "the ubiquitous devil of our secular culture" under a microscope, and he breaks down humanity's doomsday believers, from "paramilitary paranoids" to "optimistic New Agers."  The essays that follow are loosely organized around the theme of evil, and as Codrescu comments on American, immigrant, and emigrant life, he uncovers its darker sides, toughing on the ills of social amnesia, hypocrisy, and government corruption.  Romanian-born and now a New Orleans resident, Codrescu takes his readers from the heat of the French Quarter to the icy streets of Transylvania, from Kosovo to Chicago, and to cyberspace and back.  His outlook is that of a cautious and comical pessimist, and he argues, "Everybody in the world feels sick and it's only Prozac, work, Bill Gates, and the media that keep us from realizing it."  His tone, however, is not portentous or depressing but rather is accented with his distinctive brand of sarcasm and softened by his memories of childhood.  Many of the essay topics fall in a gray area between highbrow academia and popular culture.  Thus, Elvis, Carl Jung, The Unabomber, Allen Ginsberg, the Pied Piper, and Dante are among the men, sinister and otherwise, making appearances within his text.  Yet too often Codrescu exercises a license to drift into murky waters.  An essay on autobiography declares, "The memoir is a skeumorph," while in a more postmodern piece he insists, "Virtuality is television squared."

Fans will delight in another window into Codrescu's shrewd and quirky mind - his confession of AOL addiction, his thoughts on being a grandfather, and his strange yet convincing argument "Against Synchronicity."  Others, though, may become lost in the many obscurities. 

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-20294-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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?

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


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

Did you like this book?