An affecting, informative amalgam of personal and national history.

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Los Desengaños

MEMORIES OF A PLACE

A memoir that situates personal remembrance within the tumult of the Cuban revolution.

Debut author Tischler’s father, Adolfo Sanchez, split his young adulthood between the United States and his native Cuba. After inheriting some property in Cuba that included the ruins of an old sugar mill, he moved back to the island nation around 1930, during economically bright times that Cubans commonly referred to as the “dance of the millions.” Filled with hopeful anticipation, he borrowed heavily to expand his property and convert it into a cattle ranch, and then the financial devastation of the Depression hit. However, Adolfo’s ranch, after some trying years, eventually became a steady success; the author grew up in comparative prosperity, which allowed her to receive some of her education in the United States. However, much tougher times were just around the bend, and Tischler vividly remembers hearing news on the radio that Cuban president Fulgencio Batista “had simply taken over the government.” The author later met her husband in Florida, and for a time they lived in Cuba together when he found work in the town of Nicaro. But the political environment continued to deteriorate, and her brother, Oli, tragically lost his life as a consequence. Angela’s husband lost his job because of his lack of sympathy for the Cuban revolution (the letter of termination is extraordinary), and they finally relocated to the United States. The author’s prose is philosophically charged and often wryly funny, filled with sociological aperçus: “Americans have an undying faith that their government will get them out of whatever mess they get into,” she writes. “We Cubans don’t expect anything from our government and least of all, in our present situation.” Also, she manages to convey a heartbreaking tale of personal loss and political folly without mordant sentimentality or grim fatalism. Although not every reader will be enthralled by the detailed accounts of her family genealogy, the story aspires to more general history and universal relevance. As such, she deftly braids together her autobiography and the story of the life of Cuba, and her love of her homeland, despite its decline, is endearing. Finally, she provides a welcome alternative to other accounts of the Cuban revolution by American journalists and academics.

An affecting, informative amalgam of personal and national history. 

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-9838519-1-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: A Swan Song Book

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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

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