THE PUSHCART PRIZE, XXIV

BEST OF THE SMALL PRESSES

For this year’s anthology, essays again rank higher in quality than stories, despite being outnumbered. In the top slots for essays and memoirs, Gabriel Garc°a M†rquez reveals his origins as a writer; Elizabeth Sifton traces the theological-activist career of her father, Reinhold Niebuhr, and the unexpected popularity of his famous “serenity prayer”; Alexander Theroux collects cases of obsessive collectors; and Amitav Ghosh browses his inherited literary tastes in “The March of the Novel Through History: The Testimony of My Grandfather’s Bookcase.” The next rank, even with the standard essays on chronic ailments, childhood, and cultural/religious heritage, fares pretty well: Daniel Henry vividly recounts an Alaskan camp’s Hitchcock-like invasion by “A Murder of Crows,” and Pam Houston gives a winsome survey of love in San Francisco in “The Best Girlfriend You Never Had.” The short story selection is headlined by Charles Baxter, Frederick Busch, Richard Bausch, Rick Moody, who all submit satisfying tales, but only Robert Coover, with his Wild West phantasmagoria, “The Sheriff Goes to Church,” really delivers the goods. Elsewhere, Stacey Richter goes over the top with a drug-addict teacher and her pusher students, Bruce Holland Rogers weaves a spooky allegory in “The Dead Boy at Your Window,” and Steve Stern crosses The Dybbuk with the Borscht Belt (and a touch of Updike’s Bech) in “The Wedding Jester.” Writing seminars show their influence in the stories by the few newcomers Mary Yukari Waters, Tom Bailey, and Peter Love, but the diversity of stories and styles is a far cry from the last decade’s assembly-line MFA fiction. Unfortunately this time there are no critical essays to balance the selection of poems, which, led by Alicia Ostriker and Robert Creeley, ranges from open-mike slam verse to metered artifice. To independent publishing what Sundance is to independent films: a little buzz, a lot of variety, some second-raters, and many chances for discovery.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1999

ISBN: 1-888889-19-5

Page Count: 590

Publisher: Pushcart

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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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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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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