A debut memoir recalls a juror’s momentous decision and his struggle with religious faith.
In 2009, Dubler was summoned to jury duty in Colorado’s Arapahoe County, and his 10-week service in a double-murder trial changed his life. The charges in the case were grim—a drug dealer was accused of a coldblooded shooting—and the stakes were dauntingly high; if the defendant was found guilty, he could face the death penalty. The author was emotionally overwhelmed by the gravity of his role, torn by a dilemma that he poignantly recounts: “I could choose mercy and offend everyone who clamored for the full extent of justice. Or I could choose the death penalty and offend everyone who said that there had already been enough tears, suffering, and death.” Dubler situates the trial within his own painful crisis of faith. Raised as an evangelical Christian, he was taught that the line between sin and righteousness was inflexible; he also says that he was generally seen by others as a man who was filled with divine spirit. However, despite his commitment to his faith, he felt disappointed in God as he languished in a dysfunctional marriage. While reconciling himself with the enormity of his judgment as a juror, Dubler felt compelled to confront his inclinations toward moral judgment. In this book, he sensitively portrays his duties as a juror, filling these moments with nuance, introspection, and self-doubt. Despite the monstrousness of the crime, Dubler recounts how he resisted thinking of the defendant as the personification of evil, as he detected “glimpses of his humanity.” Throughout, the author’s personal recollections are remarkably forthcoming and unguarded; he even discusses how sexual abstinence before marriage affected his relationship with his wife and how uncomfortable he was about sex’s “mechanics and messiness.” Still, the highlight of the book is his running comparison between his uneventful upbringing and the defendant’s traumatic one and the ways in which both virtue and chance indelibly shape a life.
An emotional, edifying remembrance written with power and clarity.
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").
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)