BUT DO BLONDES PREFER GENTLEMEN?

HOMAGE TO QWERT YUIOP AND OTHER WRITINGS

This collection of nearly 200 short reviews and literary pieces—probably necessarily uneven in quality given the publish-in-haste nature of his book reviewing—demonstrates Burgess' broad learning and also his habitual critical highhandedness. The university don that Burgess—foiled by WW II—never became lurks close beneath the anything-for-a-buck man of letters and learned journalist of his current persona, ever ready to snap at bright objects—or dullards. Burgess includes among the dullards all feminists ("Grants from a Sexist Pig" heads the volume), most American scholars (Yankophobe Burgess finds Edmund Wilson's Anglophobia incomprehensible), and Daniel Defoe (whose Robinson Crusoe Burgess compares—outrageously—to P.C. Wren's Beau Geste). Burgess does like James Thurber, Vladimir Nabokov, and Princess Grace of Monaco—although his sketches of the first two never mention their celebrated crochetiness; but perhaps this master of the crochet never noticed a certain peevishness. If occasionally willful, these essays are also occasionally memorable in their epigrammatic succinctness. Another asset is Burgess' lack of prudery. He writes of Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings: "Give it a few years. . .it may well appear as one of the great works of contemporary mythopoesis. It certainly gives us a new look up the anus." As Burgess says himself in reviewing a volume of S.J. Perelman's short pieces, this is not the kind of book to go through in one sitting—the repetitions and tics become too obvious. (Burgess notes Perelman's repetition of the odd word "lagniappe"; he is himself addicted to the equally recondite "onomastic.") Still, since the literary turf of the educated reader—judgments about the comparative merits of contemporary writers, or the probable duration of literary reputations—is now almost ignored both by the increasingly theoretical academic journals and the increasingly illiterate schlock media, intelligent and impassioned practical critics like Burgess perform a real service. Forgive him his obtuse remarks.

Pub Date: March 31, 1986

ISBN: 0070089779

Page Count: 604

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1986

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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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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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