LITTLE WILSON AND BIG GOD

BEING THE FIRST PART OF THE CONFESSIONS OF ANTHONY BURGESS

In his Preface, Burgess claims that his two-volume autobiography (this being Volume I) will close his writing career. If so, the author of such potent inventions as a Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers passes from the literary scene on a rollicking, energetic note. This is lively reminiscence suffused with irony, a gently farcical account of a confused but not unhappy youth. Writers, Burgess states, are "not remarkable people. . .the career of a taxi-driver is far fuller of incident." Often true, and true of the bare bones of Burgess' life. Yet it is his genius to present the minutiae of his life's first half (this volume covers up to age 42) not as flat detail, but as reverberatory springboard for social, psychological, and philosophical speculation. Asides such as "social mobility is built into women and may be an aspect of their biology" season nearly every page and provide universal reference for Burgess' particular experiences, in this case his lifelong attraction to restless, peripatetic women, especially his free-spirited wife, Lynne, who conducted quiet extramarital affairs, including one with Dylan Thomas, for the duration of her liason with Burgess. Sex, in fact, more than the religion implied in the title and more than the music which was Burgess' early passion (he began writing seriously only in middle age, harboring hopes until then of being a composer) proves the metronome clocking his life; salty, teasing descriptions of couplings abound, adding spice to Burgess' arched-eyebrows telling of his middle-class childhood in Manchester, WW II service on the home front, and intellectual and geographical wanderings (including a lengthy stay in Malaya, colorfully evoked). A wise and witty autobiography, resplendidly entertaining and chock-full of the memorabilia of a typical life lived with atypical fervor: top-drawer Burgess.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 1986

ISBN: 0140108246

Page Count: 460

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicholson

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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