A charming portrait of a German family caught up in the sweep of history.

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DEAR WILLY, THE TRUE STORY OF A LIFE WELL LIVED

Debut editor Claire Ohlsson Geheb collects the correspondence of her German father-in-law and his relatives in this debut biography.

In 1900, Willy Geheb was the fourth child born to a blacksmith and his wife in what is now the state of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany. He grew up there, served in the German military during World War I, and saw the early years of the Weimar Republic. He immigrated to Brazil in 1923, then lived in Mexico before finally settling in Chicago and raising a family of his own. He continued to write letters home to his German relatives, receiving news of the republic’s economic troubles, the rise of Adolf Hitler, and the horror of World War II and its aftermath. After he suffered a stroke in 1980, a chest of the German-language letters as well as his personal diaries was discovered by his son, John. He and his wife, the credited editor here, finally secured the services of a translator in 2013, and they published the material in English to offer readers a unique view of 20th-century German history as seen from the perspective of a single family: “The Geheb family personalities, beliefs, relationships, daily activities, employment, and life styles described in the letters bring the history and living conditions of the times to life,” says editor Geheb in an introduction. Indeed, the letters of the Geheb family members, and of Willy in particular, are filled with moments of warmth, humor, and charming specificity, as when Willy describes quitting a job as a chef because he was getting “fat.” Willy is also capable of disarming profundity when commenting on current events: “Dear Father,” he writes in March 1927, “it is certainly to your credit to take the fate of Germany to heart, but look at the history of the world, and ask yourself, where are the mighty kingdoms now?” His accounts of the final days of both world wars are particularly compelling.

A charming portrait of a German family caught up in the sweep of history.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9990903-4-3

Page Count: 386

Publisher: Schmirma Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2019

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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