A writer's guide that is bound to teach and inspire by example.

BIRD BY BIRD

SOME INSTRUCTIONS ON WRITING AND LIFE

Lamott (Operating Instructions, 1993, etc.) gently explodes the fantasy that writing will solve all of a fledgling author's problems—an ailing bank account, low self-esteem—and at the same time argues that writing "does turn out to be its own reward.''

Beginning with her first exposure to the writing life through her father, Lamott introduces some practical points: shaping credible dialogue; thinking of a first draft as a Polaroid photograph that slowly develops beneath one's fingers. Her cardinal truth is that there is no secret to writing well other than sitting down to do it every day; she also encourages by noting that even the best writers produce "shitty'' first drafts. Offering time-tested tips, such as carrying around index cards to jot down fortuitous phrases and observations and focusing on plot as an outgrowth of character, Lamott intersperses stories and prose from her own experience that delight with insight and descriptive acumen. The incident from which the title and folksy aesthetic have been taken is typical: When, years ago, her 10-year-old brother was panicking, unable to write a report on birds for which he'd been preparing for months, their father calmed him with the advice, "Just take it bird by bird.'' While she suggests finding a writing partner for feedback and describes her own traumatic escapades in taking a novel through several drafts, Lamott offers no advice about revision—the most important skill a working writer must master. Still, paragraph by paragraph, this humorous, insightful, no-nonsense approach will remind novices why they are writing: to tell the truth, to live from the heart, and to share their gift with others.

A writer's guide that is bound to teach and inspire by example.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-43520-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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