Dolorous yet exhilarating dispatches from the edge.

STRANGER THAN FICTION

TRUE STORIES

Palahniuk takes a break from his pitch-black, apocalyptic fiction (Diary, 2003, etc.) and spins a few yarns about real people—some not insane or suffering from a debilitating illness.

Unlike his novels, in which the human race is repeatedly pulverized for its conformity, groupthink, and general blankness, this collection of short nonfictions done for various magazines suggests that Palahniuk actually likes humanity—or at least some parts of it. This doesn’t mean he’s content with gentle sketches of quiet people who may be extraordinary in some understated, concerned, NPR kind of way. You’re more likely to find the author watching the sad spectacle of wannabe screenwriters paying for the privilege of pitching their little hearts out in a hotel ballroom to low-level movie producers (“This is something they’ve lugged around their whole life, and now they’re here to see what it will fetch on the open market”), or hanging out reading Tarot cards with Marilyn Manson. There isn’t much in the way of transcendent prose here; much of the time Palahniuk produces perfectly serviceable, high-grade magazine pieces, funny recollections of his Fight Club–era stint in Hollywood and so on, which keep readers flipping pages but won’t make it into any best-of-year anthologies. There are some powerful exceptions, though, like the short, bracing “Escort”: here, the author describes his stint as a hospice volunteer and says more in five pages about death than most novelists do in their entire careers. While every author hopes to connect with people through writing, most want the work itself to touch someone. Palahniuk aims his desire to connect in a different direction: he wants his writing to bring him into contact with humanity through the research that he does and the stories he uncovers along the way. Thus, “even the lonely act of writing becomes an excuse to be around people.”

Dolorous yet exhilarating dispatches from the edge.

Pub Date: June 15, 2004

ISBN: 0-385-50448-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more