A writer goes for a winding walk down memory lane in this debut memoir.
After 30 years as a successful psychotherapist, Wolleson turns a critical eye on her own past, recognizing both continuity and chaos. A small, blue-collar Oregon town was the backdrop of a mostly happy childhood, where her absent fisherman father and caring but reserved mother raised their three daughters. Despite this relative stability, the author recalls an early and continuous struggle to maintain a solid sense of self, explaining, “I was a frightened, empty person who made myself up as I went along.” Her post-high school life in California coincided with the 1960s and ’70s, where the book takes a sharp turn to recount episodes of LSD trips, communes, nudity, and exotic vacations. Various relationships crop up, ranging from funny to romantic to violent, but all share a marked ambivalence in the telling. Wolleson characterizes this period as unanchored and impulsive, admitting, “I have a secret resumé no prospective employer ever saw, listing the nineteen jobs I had in twenty years between college and graduate school.” After attending many types of therapy, she realized that her passion lay in guiding others through their own psychological growth and healing, and she dedicated years of work to eventually opening her own therapy practice. The book’s final section features musings on the author’s present life, with an emphasis on aging (in body, if not in mind). The memoir feels like sitting down for coffee with a bubbly old friend whose storytelling flits around, only briefly landing on any single anecdote. This allows for paradoxical layers to the writing: an open, confessional quality, but also a reticence that creeps in at important moments; memory that’s alternately thorough and patchy; and the shadow of the present frequently clouding descriptions of the past. In short, Wolleson’s book exemplifies both the charm and frustration inherent in the genre. More emphasis on connecting threads would provide the artfulness and sustained reflection that are lacking here, but the fragmentary nature also feels true to life.
A colorful and warm, if somewhat ragged, series of personal vignettes.
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)