An irreverent, heartfelt work that cheerfully wanders through somber topics.




A photographer and museum curator’s collection of meditations and conversations on art, writing, and life in general. 

After a friendly introduction, Peterson’s (The Blossoming of the World, 2011, etc.) book immediately jumps into heavy topics, beginning with caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease, but it does so without losing much of its light tone. This lightheartedness persists as the book branches out into a variety of other subjects and formats. There are transcripts of informal conversations between photographers as they reminisce about how they started and an email exchange between the author and his best friend, Jan, about pursuing art while coping with chronic illness (the author has Parkinson’s disease). By recognizing other voices, the author shows appreciation for those he admires and who’ve supported him in a way that doesn’t often come across in solitary reflections. The volume’s title comes from an account of a moment when the author was struck by the beauty of a deer in his yard; in it, he tries to explain why he stopped to watch it for nearly an hour. Overall, this book attempts to find ways to talk about personal feelings (in art and life) with someone one cares about, even if one can’t necessarily share the precise feeling. To that end, there are stories about the distress of missing a moment of possible mutual understanding; in one chapter, Peterson expresses admiration for his dog but confusion about its erratic insecurities. The author’s writing does sometimes depend too much on idiom, but that same playful inclination sometimes gives the book unexpected momentum. For instance, he describes friends and family, in a moment of slightly melancholic reflection, as “the soil from which we”—that is, he—“grew.” Later, during an essay about Parkinson’s and his attempts to ward off its effects, Peterson characterizes his disease as being like a pack of uncaring wolves, and unlike himself, “the wolves have nothing to prove.” Selections from the author’s photography emphasize the painterly aesthetic of his writing.

An irreverent, heartfelt work that cheerfully wanders through somber topics.

Pub Date: April 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9990375-1-5

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Due Santi Press

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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 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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