PASSIONS OF THE MIND

SELECTED ESSAYS

A collection of previously published essays and reviews (The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, etc.), seemingly more the work of a competent grad student than an imaginative novelist, and sure to disappoint those who enjoyed Byatt's Booker Prize-winning Possession (1990). In essays about her favorite Victorians (Robert Browning and George Eliot) and moderns such as Ford Madox Ford and William Golding, Byatt, a former lecturer in English and American Literature at the Univ. of London, explores the relations between narrative and religion. These writers, Byatt suggests, vindicate the ``fictive form'' as the appropriate place to resolve the problem ``of the real'' in a postreligious world. For Byatt, Browning is ``a poet who writes of men and women, all separately incarnate, all separately aware of their necessarily and splendidly limited ways of infinite passion and the pain of finite hearts that yearn.'' Eliot's intelligence, she concludes, ``combined thought and feeling in a new form of poetic but ironic realist fiction.'' In perhaps the most accessible and persuasive essay here (``Accurate Letters: Ford Madox Ford''), Byatt describes Ford as a writer who taught us the distinction between the ``great lie'' and ``the hard ideas of truth.'' And a number of her reviews on writers as varied as Toni Morrison, whom she admires, and Barbara Pym, whom she does not (``[Pym] appears gentler than Spark or Weldon but is also infinitely less generous, humane and imaginative'') are intelligent, perceptive, and refreshingly opinionated. Most often confined by narrow academic parameters to lengthy quotes and tentatively advanced ideas, Byatt's rich inventive talents are well served here only rarely.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-40511-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1992

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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