A quirky, variegated salute to what Aldous Huxley called “a literary device for saying almost everything about almost...



Should essays be light and playful, hard and serious, or both? Some 50 experts on the form, ranging across 400 years, tackle the question in this odd volume, edited by Klaus, founding director of University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program (The Made Up Self: Impersonation in the Personal Essay, 2010, etc.), and Stuckey-French (English/Florida State Univ.; The American Essay in the American Century, 2011).

“A genuine essay,” writes Cynthia Ozick, “has no educational, polemical, or sociopolitical use; it is the movement of a free mind at play.” It is “science, minus the explicit proof” (José Ortega y Gasset), “spontaneous and audacious” (Enrique Amberson Imbert), “a walk, an excursion, not a business trip” (Michael Hamburger). It is personal, “a piece of Autobiography” (Charles Lamb), but only to a point. “Never to be yourself and yet always—that is the problem,” writes Virginia Woolf. To essay means “to try but not to attempt,” writes William Carlos Williams; according to Jean Starobinski, it means to weigh. Not so, says André Belleau: ”The essay is not a weighing, an evaluation of ideas; it is a swarm of idea-words.” Through the ages, the word has become a catchall for reviews, sermons and lectures, among other forms of expression. In the late 19th century, William Dean Howells bemoaned the day “when the essay began to confuse itself with the article, and to assume an obligation of constancy to premises and conclusions” Like a classic essay itself, this book approaches its neither-fish-nor-fowl subject from many angles; it bemoans the death of the form, salutes its hearty endurance and both inspires and alienates.

A quirky, variegated salute to what Aldous Huxley called “a literary device for saying almost everything about almost anything.”

Pub Date: March 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60938-076-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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