Always passionate, frequently funny, occasionally incoherent excerpts from a significant 20th-century American writer.

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ON WRITING

A selection of writing on writing from the “Dirty Old Man” of American letters.

Those who know Bukowski (1920-1994) as a barfly caricature will find revelation throughout these letters to editors and to fellow writers, Henry Miller and Lawrence Ferlinghetti among them. Many will be surprised at how well-read he was and how seriously he took his art. As he complains of aggressive editing, “my writing is jagged and harsh, I want it to remain that way. I don’t want it smoothed out.” He rails against those who aspire to fame, who think that anyone can teach writing, and who adhere to the strictures of academic rules. He proclaims himself “King of the hard-mouth poets” and “the Dostoyevsky of the ’70s” and dismisses more refined poems as “bloodless butterflies” and “stilted formalism, like chewing cardboard.” Bukowski’s rants are great fun to read, often illuminating and inspirational. Their chronological progression presents a kind of alternative memoir to the thinly disguised autobiography of his fiction, since the life that informs the writing keeps seeping through the selected passages. However, there is plenty of obsessive repetition here, perhaps partly because of the format of the letters, which were never meant to be read as a whole, and partly because of the nature of alcoholism. “To get through this game drinking helps a great deal,” he writes of the writing racket, “although I don’t recommend it to many. Most drunks I’ve known aren’t very interesting at all. Of course, most sober people aren’t either.” Of his foray into film collaboration with the autobiographical Barfly, he writes of his surprise that the director “wants a plot and an evolvement of character. shit, my characters seldom evolve, they are too fucked-up. they can’t even type.” Drawings and handwritten notes enhance the intimacy and vitality of the selections.

Always passionate, frequently funny, occasionally incoherent excerpts from a significant 20th-century American writer.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-239600-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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