Engaging, if slightly superficial, essays on modern life from the perspective of a military spouse and mother.

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Psycho Babble

THE RANTS, RAVES & RIFFS OF AN UNCOMMON BLONDE

A collection of essays by a U.S. Marine Corps wife explores a wide range of topics, from Star Trek to the family cat.

This book comprises 46 short essays, written in the “exasperated housewife” tone popularized by newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck, whom Diersen (Thinner Skin, 2014, etc.) cites in the essay “I Heart John-Boy” as one of her favorite authors. Previously published on Diersen’s online blog, the essays are divided into six sections. “On Children and Parenting” and “On Marriage and Relationships” contain stories from the author’s life as the wife of a Marine officer (referred to in the text only as “the Jarhead”) and the mother of two grown children, dubbed El Noblé and Princess Primrose. Other sections, like “Obsessions, Confessions, and Possessions” and “On Politics and Culture,” explore Diersen’s thoughts on such varied topics as favorite commercials, the emotional issues of the family cat, and gay marriage. In almost every case, the author employs a light, even glib, narrative style to deliver a sincere and thoughtful message. For example, “My Sci-Fi Fantasy,” which enumerates the five items of Star Trek technology she “wouldn’t mind having,” ends poignantly by placing at the top of the list Dr. McCoy’s cure for kidney disease so that she could alleviate her aunt’s need for dialysis. Similarly, “Pot Luck” expands a humorous account of a Georgia police raid on an okra farm they mistakenly believe is growing marijuana into a brief analysis of unjust drug seizure laws. Readers may tire of Diersen’s relentlessly perky tone, and there are some instances of dark humor that risk becoming alienating, such as in “The Limits of Togetherness,” in which she speculates on the ways her husband might murder her, given half a chance. But the majority of the essays are personable and entertaining, and Diersen concludes with two examples of her fiction, a short story and a novel excerpt, that pique the reader’s interest in her other works, including the novels Unmatched (2012) and Thinner Skin.

Engaging, if slightly superficial, essays on modern life from the perspective of a military spouse and mother.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-56055-6

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Blue Gentian Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2016

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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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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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