A Trinidad-born woman, now a U.S.–based nurse, describes her traumatic childhood and tumultuous adult experiences in this debut memoir.
At age 3, Bella was left with her father, a Trinidad-based funeral home operator, when her mother fled to the U.S. with Bella’s sister. After a frantic period of “international kidnapping,” Bella and her sister spent the bulk of their childhood back in Trinidad with their father and his girlfriend/eventual wife, whom Bella dubbed “El Diabla Puta” (“The Devil Whore”). While Bella endured ongoing abuse from this pair (beatings, lack of food, etc.), her father’s half brother sexually molested her. Although Bella and her sister returned to their mother as teenagers, the damage was done. Bella got pregnant, married young, and spent her adult life “running and running as fast as I could from all my doubts, fears, and my past filled with a multitude of poor choices right at my heels.” While she eventually earned a nursing degree that allowed her to support herself (and flee stalking and deadbeat lovers), she also made “a career out of being pregnant just when I was ready to bail out of a bad relationship” and bore four children, all with different, problematic fathers. But by memoir’s end, Bella “can see the strength that I possess. I don’t know what’s in God’s divine plan for me, but I will continue to be the best I can be while enjoying life to the fullest without any more regrets.” The author has penned an initially gripping, then ultimately unrelenting tale of endless turmoil. While she makes note of “how much I have grown,” there is more focus, indeed overload, in this narrative on her destructive patterns repeating themselves, with one of her final chapters, for example, detailing her return to a cheating lover. She is also surprisingly detached about the travails and imprisonment of her daughter, noting, “She and I had this odd disconnect from the very beginning.” Still, this is certainly a striking snapshot of the vicious, damaging cycles that can arise from childhood trauma.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
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)