Smart but meandering, inconsequential entertainment.

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HOW TO DATE MEN WHEN YOU HATE MEN

A frank battle cry from a 20-something woman in the modern-dating trenches of New York City.

Roberson, a freelance humorist and researcher at the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, wields generous self-criticism to chronicle the current state of affairs among heteronormative singles on the hunt for love and/or just enough interaction with the opposite sex to keep the conversation about male idiocy going. Despite the catchy title, this book is neither a polemic against men nor a navigational how-to tome filled with advice. There is no narrative arc (chapters include, among others, “Crushes,” “Flirting,” and “Breaking Up”), catalyst for personal or romantic evolution, or tests of any real consequence for the author. Readers in search of deeply personal revelations should look elsewhere, but those seeking relatable accounts of just how unromantic the pursuits of romance actually are will be richly rewarded. Roberson’s great strengths are her blistering comedic sense and her cringeworthy, unexaggerated insights into her dealings with men. By “men,” clarifies the author, “I am talking in most cases about straight, cis, able-bodied white men…who have all the privilege in the world”—traits Roberson admits could be used to describe her. The author is as forthright about her sexual desires and lack of understanding of “ANY text ANY man” sends her as she is about her lack of experience with intimacy. Throughout the book, Roberson provides plenty of reasons for readers to laugh out loud. In a list of ways to kill time while waiting to answer a text, for example, she includes “Be in Peru and Have No Wi-Fi” and “Think About a Riddle.” She also satirizes The Rules, the notorious bestseller with archaic advice about how to catch a husband, and seamlessly weaves in pop-cultural references to countless sources. The so-called conclusion is a misstep; this book isn’t a story so it doesn’t have a beginning or end. Roberson doesn’t have a vendetta against men, only an understandable wish that they would be clear about their intentions and then take action.

Smart but meandering, inconsequential entertainment.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19342-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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