In a secular age, here's an attempt to respiritualize the calendar with a year's worth of essays—some reprinted from Christianity Today and Modern Liturgy—covering every major Christian feast. The Chrysostom Society, whose members authored this collection, is a loose affiliation of Christian writers who assemble once a year to discuss their work. A few big names jump out—Madeleine L'Engle, Walter Wangerin, Jr., Gregory Wolfe, Larry Woiwode—but the rest are lesser lights. The title notwithstanding, only a handful of the pieces here are fiction—most notably L'Engle's quirky tale (``Transfiguration'') of a man, a thief, and a merry Christmas—with the bulk being memoirs of happy childhood or struggling adulthood. Five authors chip in twice: Wangerin, who longs to be pregnant like Mary (``Annunciation'') and recalls his boyhood desire to see Jesus (``Maundy Thursday''); Emilie Griffin, who exposes the religious roots of Mardi Gras in ``Shrove Tuesday'' and pays homage to the ``Solemnity of Mary''; William Griffin, who lauds ``All Saints'' and compares Herod's slaughter of first-born males (``Holy Innocents'') to modern-day abortion; Robert Siegel, with poems marking ``Ash Wednesday'' and ``Palm Sunday''; and Virginia Stem Owens, who commemorates Christ's Passion in ``Passion Sunday'' and ``Good Friday'' (``the day you can do nothing''). Among the best of the rest, Alice Slaiku Lawhead struggles to remember God in the midst of ``Advent''; editor Peterson (Spiritual Theology/Regents College) recalls the ``Christmas'' that his parents skipped the tree, a lesson in humility; ``Trinity Sunday'' triggers memories of early loves for Karen Burton Mains; Philip Yancey learns the meaning of ``irreversible'' on ``Easter Sunday.'' Harold Fickett, Luci Shaw, John Leax, Gregory Wolfe, Calvin Miller, Shirley Nelson, and Stephen R. Lawhead round out the contributors, who invariably catch the essence of the holidays in well-mannered prose shimmering with images of candles, angels, a loving God. A clever conceit, carefully crafted—and just in time for Christmas.
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)
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").