An American dancer looks back on nearly two decades of life as an expatriate in Italy.
In 1986, Marangon (Detour on an Elephant,2014) was living in Los Angeles and working as a dancer, ballet teacher, and choreographer when a generous gift from the cast of one of her shows—a ticket to Venice, Italy—prompted her to make a change. She landed a job at a dance school in that city, intent on starting “the next chapter in my life.” But she soon discovered that life in Italy as a foreigner, or “extra-communataria,” was far different from visiting the country as a tourist. Navigating these differences proved challenging; dealing with Italian bureaucracy and what she describes as a “culture of corruption” was an endless source of frustration. An ill-advised marriage to an Italian man, she says, turned into a disaster, although it did allow her to get a green card. In this warts-and-all tale of a life abroad, she tempers the moments of stress with the obvious joy that she found in pursuing her passion for ballet and in introducing young people to dance. She was eventually able to establish her own school, and her accounts of staging productions—often in less-than-ideal conditions—are amusing, if sometimes too densely detailed. Much of Marangon’s memoir recounts the specifics of casting, set construction, and costuming for these performances as well as conflicts with rival dance teachers and her valiant efforts to keep her school financially afloat. However, she also mixes in more personal reflections on her abusive childhood, her difficult relationship with her father, and a vow she made as a child to find the “lost castles” in Ireland, where her ancestors once lived. She glosses over some topics fairly quickly, such as her father’s death, but she returns again and again to the theme of finding a home and security in an often unwelcoming world.
An often engaging remembrance despite occasionally awkward execution.
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)
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").