AMERICAN STORIES

With this collection of ``American Chronicles'' from the pages of The New Yorker, Trillin (Enough's Enough, 1990, etc.), known for his sly drollery, displays his talents as a reporter, probing the wild heart of the nation in a dozen full-length pieces. If Truman Capote invented the nonfiction novel, as he claimed, and Norman Mailer devised variations on it, Trillin has perfected the nonfiction short story; moreover, his craftsmanship can contend with that of either Capote or Mailer at their best. With scant pyrotechnics but with lucid, organized prose, Trillin describes what happens when a Scout leader in Oregon is afflicted with homosexual pedophilia or a scratch farmer in Horse Cave, Kentucky, is persuaded that pot would be a good cash crop. He presents a Jekyll-and-Hyde movie reviewer in Texas and a sordid little murder case in Emporia, Kansas. There's manslaughter on the Virginia farm of a member of the patrician Saltonstall family, and the nasty activities of the Posse Comitatus in the fields of the American heartland. And though the author's land sometimes seems drenched in blood feuds, violence, and a surfeit of litigation, usually of the criminal sort, Trillin also offers an easygoing profile of ``Fats'' Goldberg, for whom he acts as a happy Boswell, and the story, gracefully moving, of an American's death in a distant land. Trillin's eye is sharp, of course. The list of ingredients in Ben and Jerry's ice cream, he tells us, ``was done in the sort of hand printing often used on menus that list a variety of herbal teas.'' He has an alert reporter's ear, too. One Kentuckian, in the words of the local sheriff, ``could come in here and sit down and talk you out of your shoes.'' Since life, as Trillin tells us, ``goes on with or without a reporter present,'' he thoughtfully provides a brief postscript to each tale to bring us up to date. Engrossing true stories, filled with liars, lawsuits, and laughs. Mind your shoes.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-395-59367-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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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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