A moving account that tackles misfortune and spirituality with a smart and engaging point of view.

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SECOND LIFE

AN ATHEIST'S JOURNEY TO SPIRITUALITY

A difficult marriage and a terrible tragedy lead a woman to create a new, more spiritual life in this debut memoir.

Even as a teenager, Cooper believed in science and not religion. “I was free to create the life of my choosing,” she writes. The life that she selected appeared perfect on the outside—even as she ignored the signs of problems brewing within. After marrying a kind but troubled man named Jonathan, the young couple moved to Georgia from New Jersey so he could pursue his career as an industrial designer. They lived in the constant shadow of Jonathan’s previous marriage, his young daughter who died, and his manipulative mother—all of which drove him to drink excessively—but the couple managed to establish a stable home for their three boys: Jason, Dane, and Todd. As the boys grew up, Cooper finally came to terms with her husband’s alcoholism after empty bottles of vodka, missing money, and DUIs made it impossible for her to overlook. She now calls this evidence “invitations to step into” her own power in her well-crafted narration that makes her attempt to ignore the problem both relatable and heartbreaking. She eventually put herself through school to obtain an MBA, but the most heart-wrenching event was still to come. Todd, her youngest son, exhibited increasingly erratic behavior throughout his high school years, ending in an unimaginable tragedy. Cooper then takes this catastrophe into unexpected territory in her account as she creates a “second life.” She describes visiting psychics, reading books about reincarnation, and connecting with Todd after his death in ways that make these ethereal ideas feel rational and necessary. In addition, the author skillfully portrays grief and familial strife—common themes in autobiographies—making them engrossing and fresh, particularly the terrifying character of her mother in-law and the devastating scenes that Cooper re-creates after her son’s death. This book also succeeds at standing out from other memoirs with the infusion of alternative spiritual ties that the author considers from a perspective that’s reasonable, emotional, and highly personal.

A moving account that tackles misfortune and spirituality with a smart and engaging point of view.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9991237-0-6

Page Count: 382

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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