A volume of anecdotes, lists, quotes, and jokes seeks to illuminate the complexities of gender politics and romance.
Voice-over artist Martin (A Dangerous Book for Dogs, 2016, etc.) decided to embark on this book because of a brief, abusive marriage that, she writes, “helped me relate to a wide variety of people with sincerity, empathy, and compassion.” Despite that somber spur, however, this is a frequently funny book about male/female typecasting and the relationship challenges everyone faces. “Life is often laughable, even when marked with pathos,” Martin insists, so she encourages readers to laugh at themselves by seeing the kinds of mistakes they make, like public gaffes, spoonerisms, and “bimbo moments.” She starts by breaking down some gender stereotypes—including a standout story about surprising an author by reading his tome on cold fusion overnight before interviewing him—and discussing how everyone can choose a positive attitude toward aging and life’s “stresspools.” Over half of the book is devoted to romantic relationships: everything from understanding emotions and communication failures to signs that a spouse is cheating (“Avoidance of contact, both physical and intellectual”; “Distances himself from you emotionally”; “Stops confiding in you”; “Avoids being alone with you”). Chapters on building empathy, dousing anger, and exploring different types of intimacy are highlights. But the author’s strategy throughout is to deliver lots of information in the form of lists, which can be overwhelming. For instance, one page of signs that an individual is a control freak might well be entertaining and helpful, but seven is far too much. The same goes for extended inventories of male versus female stereotypes and celebrity couples who broke up due to adultery—much of the former is self-evident, and the latter is repetitive. Strings of witticisms and popular sayings about the battle of the sexes and old age have a somewhat generic feel. Overall, the book is an unusual mixture of received wisdom—the sorts of jokes and quotations one might store in the bathroom for an occasional laugh—and serious relationship advice to keep by the bedside for everyday consultation. Those purposes need not necessarily be at odds, but the genre confusion might limit the work’s appeal.
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)