In this intimate memoir, the only child of aging parents describes her struggles to balance caregiving, marriage, and career, and to reconcile daughterly devotion with childhood wounds.
Mother, wife, and the founder of an international school, overachiever Shoemaker found that her need to please everyone was outmatched by the demands of her domineering mother, Mildred, and the physical ailments of an easygoing father, Jim, who developed Alzheimer’s. When both parents moved to a nursing home due to declining health, Jim was housed apart from Mildred, who bitterly withdrew from her husband and criticized Shoemaker. “I visualize my mother wrapping a long rope around her waist,” the author writes, “handing one end of it to me, and jumping off a bridge.” Flashbacks to life in Cairo and childhood pressures to compete helped Shoemaker decide to change this lifelong sense of inferiority. Simultaneously trying to draw closer to and assert more independence from a mother who still intimidated, Shoemaker felt inadequate and withdrew from her husband, whose own feelings of neglect were buried behind a similar childhood upbringing concerned with how a man should behave. By urging her mother to collaborate on this memoir, Shoemaker discovered the tender side of Mildred and uncovered secrets that more fully explain her mother’s seemingly heartless choices. Aside from black-and-white photos from her mother’s scrapbooks, five pages of questions for “Life Review” follow the narrative, though they’re rather generic and unnecessary. This memorable book’s real achievement is that much of it would be mundane were it not for Shoemaker’s gift for description. Also a poet, she crafts dialogue and situations to create scenes that can be funny, heartbreaking, or frightening. However, the more Shoemaker stands up to her mother, the more Mildred dominates the story, and the tales of Shoemaker’s pupils, fascinating in themselves, drop out of the text.
An honest, painful yet humorous account of seeking unconditional love.
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)