FAME AND FOLLY

ESSAYS

No trace of stingy critical minimalism can be found in Ozick's heated new essay collection. Instead, this critic (Metaphor and Memory, 1989, etc.) draws on her resources as a novelist—characterization, irony, metaphor, narrative ingenuity—to attack or affirm other writers and traditions. The boon: goodbye to the rarefied professional concerns and language of the common academic reader. The farewell is liberating. Even when you disagree resoundingly with Ozick, her conviction is likely to indirectly aid and clarify your own by offering an exemplary force of feeling and depth of reason. For example, "Old Hand as Novice," a piece about the experience of a novelist as a fledgling playwright, is pumped with literary bravado, as though the craft of theater had little to teach a tyro ("real apprenticeship is ultimately always to the self"). Yet the sometime beginner offers insights into a play's structure that are likely to impress. ("A novel is like the physicist's premise of an expanding universe . . . a play is just the reverse"). Ozick's range is remarkable, from literary memoir ("Alfred Chester's Wig") to criticism (of Henry James, George Steiner, Isaac Babel) to cultural history ("Against Modernity," a scathing appraisal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters). Her vituperative zeal can be suspect, as in the brilliant piece on her onetime friend Chester, which insists, unconvincingly, that an old rivalry has passed. But the author's powers of evocation tend to amaze, despite some moments of excess ("coiled in the bottommost pit of every driven writer is an impersonator—protean, volatile, restless, and relentless"). Ozick reminds us of how few critics are writers in their own right. The protean self-portraiture suggested here is at least as interesting as Ozick's critical votes.

Pub Date: May 3, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-44690-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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

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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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