Wonderfully illustrated and crammed with information, this book is perfect for trivia buffs and scholars alike.

TWEETING DA VINCI

An exploration of how Italy’s volcanic geology from the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea to modern times has affected its history, art, religion, medicine and culture.

Packed with facts, full-color photos, paintings, sketches and illustrations, Pizzorusso’s beautiful first book offers essays for many tastes and educational levels. The opening piece, for example, is a rather dry and lengthy academic study of the Etruscans who inhabited the Italian peninsula before being conquered by the Romans. Pizzorusso details how some “religious tracts were attributed to Nymph Begoe (Vegoia in Latin), a prophetess who is thought to be the source of Libri Vegoici, the books on lightning that were kept in the Temple of Apollo at Rome.” However, subsequent entries are more accessible. She writes “Pyroclastic Poets,” for instance, in a far more easygoing style, even suitably waxing poetic herself: “Throughout history, writers joined the ranks of explorers and scientists in venturing close—either actually or metaphorically to the fire spewing vents which flaunted their hot vapors, ruby colored flames and glowing briquettes like a circus juggler, enticing anyone with enough moxie to venture near.” Throughout, fascinating factoids abound: The headwear of Etruscan priests survives today as bishops’ miters, and the underworld landscapes of Virgil and Dante are based on real locations that still exist. But Pizzorusso’s real genius is in her ability to stitch together widely diverse topics—such as gemology, folk remedies, grottoes, painting, literature, physics and religion—using geology as a thread. Quoting everyone from Pliny the Elder to NASA physicist Friedemann Freund, Pizzorusso’s work is solidly backed scholarship, including extensive appendices and a bibliography. What’s more, all lengthy quotes, be they Italian, Latin or Middle English, include text in the original language as well as the English translation; often also included are copies of original manuscripts. What is notably missing, however, is anything remotely related to tweeting as well as any mention of da Vinci until the fourth section out of six, when she finally presents an extensive overview of the man.

Wonderfully illustrated and crammed with information, this book is perfect for trivia buffs and scholars alike.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-940613-00-0

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Leonardo da Vinci Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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