While too eccentric to succeed as a general handbook for mentoring and being mentored—sage aphorisms and sound guidance are...




An anthology of personal recollections by writers of their mentors.

Many deride collegiate creative writing courses as a plague on literature. To them, most such courses churn out academically correct acolytes and followers of literary convention—academics birthing academics—who spend their careers congratulating each other on their genius (with an incestuous showering of blurbs and awards) but offering comparatively little of enduring value. Too often, the critique is valid. This book, edited by Liontas (Let Me Explain You, 2015) and Parker (English/Univ. of Massachusetts; Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal, 2015, etc.), reflects both the virtues and deficits of books immersed in the vagaries of this world. At times playful, touching, and trenchant, the contributions can also be nebulous, labored, and much too self-consciously “literary,” with allusions to writers few will recognize. Nearly 70 authors, many known chiefly to each other, recall their principal influences in writing and in life. Some mentors are recalled anonymously, others were neither writers nor teachers, and for many, books were their counselors. Alas, many a fine writer must augment his or her income by teaching. Some are outstanding at it and at mentoring; their influences are profound. Others tend to perpetuate the worst failings of academic fiction: turgid prose, fealty to fashion, slavish imitation, and undisciplined experiment. But at their best, they give young writers a sense of a way in, of how to take risks and not be derailed by failure, of focusing on the process, not the audience, of obtaining clarity and power, and of finding a place at the table. Notable contributors include Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Mary Gaitskill, Jay Parini, Sam Lipsyte, Sheila Heti, and Tayari Jones.

While too eccentric to succeed as a general handbook for mentoring and being mentored—sage aphorisms and sound guidance are often weakened by wanderings and pretension—the book does offer arresting memories and useful advice on navigating the writing life.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62534-182-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Univ. of Massachusetts

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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