While genuinely humorous and ultimately light in tone, this vivid, assured debut presents substantial questions about the...

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DRIVING OVER LEMONS

AN OPTIMIST IN ANDALUC°A

A delightful British bestseller that harnesses the narrative of a cosmopolitan family’s adoption of traditional rural life in a timeless foreign culture to an examination of the greater issues of place, identity, and modernity—all of it told with a wry selfdeprecation in appealing, lushly descriptive prose.

Following stints as a sheep shearer, travel writer, and itinerant farmer, Stewart persuaded his wife Ana to apply these skills (and their savings) toward the acquisition of El Valero, a rambling, decrepit farm with stone buildings and rudimentary access, electricity, and water in the remote Alpujarras region south of Grenada. Stewart’s initial adventures are something of a rural “Rake’s Progress”: he pays a wily landowner £25,000 for the farm, then endures a rambunctious apprenticeship—only to hear the farmer boasting later on about how he fleeced a foreigner. Things improve when the intrepid couple plunge into renovation work at El Valero—securing potable water and rebuilding bridges and stone walls—and then harvest its impressive bounty of olives, lemons, and peppers. Their further adventures include intermittently harrowing excursions into shepherding and sheepdealing, survival of drought and floods, and (eventually) the raising of their daughter Chloë. Throughout, Stewart wisely approaches his subject with a panoramic lens: in crucial ways, his story is primarily concerned with the hardscrabble life and the tenuously maintained traditions of the region’s native residents—who ultimately form mutually beneficial bonds of friendship and support with the newcomers. The work’s address of the subtly developing relationships between the Stewarts and the established community—and its implicit acknowledgment of thorny cultural collision and change—elevates it above the crowded realm of midlifecrisis exotica memoir. If comparisons to Peter Mayle are inevitable, Stewart maintains a warmly populist perspective in describing this more ramshackle, ungentrified terrain.

While genuinely humorous and ultimately light in tone, this vivid, assured debut presents substantial questions about the endurance of rural, agrarian traditions in the face of a supposedly seductive postmodern, wired mass culture.

Pub Date: April 3, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-41028-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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