It follows every day, but night is still as exotic for most people as the farthest land: now terrifying, now exhilarating, a heightened state. This is what Canadian poet and polymath Dewdney (Last Flesh, not reviewed, etc.) captures so well as he starts at sunset and ends at dawn, drawing a representative and universal night with an hour to each chapter. First come the sunsets, the green flash, the three stages of twilight: civil (time to turn on headlights), nautical (when the first stars appear for navigation), and astronomical (when even the faintest stars come out). With each chapter, as Dewdney so easily slips through the night, he will ask unexpected questions and answer them, too: How big is the night? How wide? What about those cosmologies? Who were Nut and Orion and Cassiopeia? Each passing hour calls to mind a subject he will pursue with digressions. Who make up the night shift of animal workers? How do they see, what is the new role of hearing as darkness falls, and what is bioluminescence anyway? What are some fun night games, and how did the institution of bedtime stories evolve? Later come the night-shift workers, the cops and the ladies of the night, and their constant battle with circadian rhythms. Dewdney is good at explaining the more arcane aspects of sleep and hormonal activity, but then he makes riveting every element he has incorporated. The gothic literary night, engaging and recreational with its blend of fantastic and abstract terror, drifts into the bosom of the night’s night: 3 a.m., when the fossil light of the stars overwhelms the sky and the stargazers, the hour dreaded by insomniacs when we wake to be tormented by our troubles.
Eulogistic and very personal treatment of a world to itself, full of incident and lovely as a Whistler nocturne.
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)