A forthcoming but ultimately disappointing tale of a writer’s path to mental health.

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If Only The Names Were Changed

A memoir that recounts a life of chemical dependency and emotional tumult.

Miller’s (You Must Know This, 2016, etc.) second book is an unflinching confessional that candidly discusses his wrenching personal trials. Essentially an assemblage of essays, it eschews a linear chronology for something more peripatetic; the author freely roams from subject to subject, often slipping into a highly stylized, almost poetic discursiveness. Miller delves into such topics as his fraught relationship with an authoritarian father, his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, his monthlong stint in a county jail, and his antipathy for religion. Along the way, he generously peppers his anecdotes with diverse literary references to authors such as Karl Marx, Julio Cortázar, Walt Whitman, and Dave Eggers. These are rarely plumbed deeply, however, so they remain merely references rather than points of illustrative intellectual departure. Miller is at his best when mixing unabashed candor with analytical self-scrutiny; for example, his discussion of his history of erotic adventurism with emotionally wounded women is both fascinating and unsettling. Also, Miller’s treatment of fatherhood, and of his newest relationship after two failed marriages, flirts with a theory of redemption. However, he often stops well short of analysis in favor of undisciplined venting: “I fucking hate the whole system of authority we humans have put in place. And by we, what I mean is white-European-males. The particular group of assholes to which I belong; though I wish I didn’t.” The prose is often gratuitously fractured, as if meant to parallel the author’s rage-filled disorientation. However, this device is neither new nor very artfully executed. The opening chapter contains a thoughtful, if derivative, reflection on the relationship between autobiography and shame. Indeed, Miller is to be commended for the courage with which he willingly exposes his life in order to capture some sliver of truth. However, this in itself won’t likely satisfy readers looking for something of greater substance.

A forthcoming but ultimately disappointing tale of a writer’s path to mental health.

Pub Date: June 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937865-70-2

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Civil Coping Mechanisms

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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

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