A gripping, enlightening journey.

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PEAKS ON THE HORIZON

TWO JOURNEYS IN TIBET

An English traveler examines the occupation of Tibet firsthand while crossing paths with a Tibetan refugee whose life exemplifies that conflict.

In his United States debut, British journalist Carroll (No Fixed Abode: A Journey Through Homelessness from Cornwall to London, 2013, etc.) chronicles his visit to the “Roof of the World,” examining the history and conquest of a people and the story of one young Tibetan exile's perilous attempts to cross the border. Seeking to understand why the ruling Han Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950 and why they remain, Carroll jumped at the opportunity to travel to the "country of stone and ice," which is (unofficially) closed to outsiders since Chinese officials fear that they might observe—and report on—daily life in Tibet. He richly describes the landscape of the country and its people—e.g., painterly images of a stretch of terrain outside his car window as "a bay of wet and seeping mud which formed strange patterns and shapes as interpretive as clouds"; a rugged, "serrated horizon"; an area "scored” by “red crenulated mountains." In addition to recounting his travels, Carroll tells the story of Lobsang, a Tibetan expat crossing the Himalayas on foot. The author explores China's tyranny and human rights abuses against dissenters in such alarming detail that readers will gasp with worry and dismay when the young man even considers an illegal border crossing. (The author also drolly recounts weighing the limited programming options on China's main TV network, which, from what he could tell, aired mostly "military dramas and terrifying operas.") Though Lobsang’s meeting with the author is inevitable, it is still suspenseful in the atmosphere of heightened drama that Carroll builds. The author dutifully fulfills Tibetans' oft-repeated exhortation to visitors: "Go to Tibet, and then tell the world what you saw."

A gripping, enlightening journey.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1619024847

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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