A charming but realistic look at the modern farming life.




A memoir delivers essays about leaving the rat race behind to start a small farm in Australia.

In 2006, Featherstone (Small Farm Success Australia, 2018, etc.) and her husband left their city jobs to commit to a farming operation on 89 acres outside Nabiac in New South Wales. With their three young children in tow, they approached the venture with curiosity and energy and worked at acquiring new skills. “I’m going to teach myself to be useful,” the author vowed. For instance, she kept bees even though she was allergic to their stings, and many of the straightforward recipes for vegetarian food and all-natural toiletries in the appendix incorporate honey and/or beeswax. They raised chickens, sheep, goats, and cattle to keep the grass under control and sold their products at four farmers markets per month. Eventually, they applied for government funding to make their farm a tourist attraction—a bee farm with insect-friendly plants—but in the meantime they made money by running the place as a “farmstay.” It was a busy life that suited this “hybrid hippy workaholic,” as Featherstone self-deprecatingly describes herself. Her tone throughout is one of good-natured exasperation, starting with their first farmstay guests’ kids’ shooting cap guns at her rabbits. Another highlight is the entertaining story of the German “Wwoofers” (agricultural workers who volunteer in return for room and board), nicknamed “Sour” and “Dour,” who nearly ate them out of house and home and did almost zero work. Many memorable anecdotes feature animals, from an encounter with an Eastern brown snake to the rescue of Daffy the cow from a water hole. Featherstone has an ear for striking and funny turns of phrase, like “Most lambs have a bucolic baa, a sweet, milky tinkle, but this one is Fran Drescher on a megaphone.” The author makes it clear that small-time farming is grueling work for little reward—“The problem with the simple life is it’s false advertising”—and toward the book’s end, a decade on, she’s exhausted. Yet hope remains that sustainability is worth pursuing and things will look up.

A charming but realistic look at the modern farming life.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9807475-4-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CapeAble Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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?