THE ASTONISHING WORLD

ESSAYS

Essayist, novelist, and travel writer, Harrison (Italian Days, 1989, etc.) here collects pieces drawn from such disparate magazines as Partisan Review and European Travel and Life. Together, they're meant to track her spiritual journeys through a world at once sacred and ordinary. But that asks too much from journalism and short fictions that are mostly just ordinary. Harrison's travel articles, though full of color and anecdote, develop no higher themes. Impressions of Morocco, Tuscany, Budapest, and Dubrovnik concentrate on bad odors and personal discomfort. Even in her profile of former gymnastics star Nadia Comaneci, Harrison seems obsessed with the athlete's rank smell. Portraits of Mario Cuomo and Gore Vidal succeed because the author allows these men to be themselves, witty and entertaining. On the set of The Godfather, Part III, Harrison discovers the remarkably obvious connections between Coppola's family and the Corleone saga. Equally unprofound is her essay on ``Women and Blacks and Bensonhurst,'' an attempt to contextualize the racial violence in her native Brooklyn, which includes the declaration of authority that ``My first lover was a black man.'' The two best articles return to the subject explored in Harrison's book-length study of Jehovah's Witnesses: cults. Here, she includes a chilling portrait of a dangerous messianic sect in northern Vermont. And a pilgrimage to a Yugoslavian shrine where the Virgin Mary purportedly appeared reveals the political agenda behind this recent Marian cult. The fictional pieces in this volume are the weakest: humorless bits about failed marriages, repressive families, and death. No Joan Didion, Harrison editorializes too much and edits too little.

Pub Date: July 14, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59105-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1992

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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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