WRY MARTINIS

Despite a few sparks of wit, this lightly humorous collection of occasional pieces misfires badly. Unlike many of his colleagues on the right, Buckley (Thank You for Smoking, 1994, etc.) does have a strong commitment to recycling. Witness this book, which seemingly contains almost every minor piece he's written in the last ten years, every sketch or scribble, no matter how irrelevant or outdated. At least half of these pieces (which first appeared in the New Yorker, Vogue, Forbes FYI, and elsewhere) are past their expiration date, viz. pallid humoresques on the Bush-Clinton debates, Prince Charles and Lady Di, Haiti, Pat Robertson, Richard Darman, et al. Worse, Buckley's humor rarely rises above amiable cocktail-party banter. Even in his more ``timeless'' pieces, such as those on the problems with programming VCRs, the burdens of unwanted houseguests, and swampy Washington D.C. summers, his prose usually overruns his ideas. Like the Metaphysical poets, his style is to yoke two unlike subjects together and hope something will happen. So we have letters from O.J. Simpson's lawyers to the Unabomber soliciting his case and Oprah interviewing the pope on his latest book. When he is not shilling tirelessly for laughs, Buckley is a perfectly competent reporter as well as a graceful stylist (he used to write speeches for President Bush). But do we really need to read his interview with Ann Landers or his eulogy for his former boss, Malcolm Forbes, or his regrets about not serving in Vietnam? These journalistic efforts aren't substantial enough to require republication. These wry martinis make a good case for teetotaling. (Book-of- the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection; author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-45233-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1997

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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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