Ozick is perceptive as usual, but these often seem like old war-horses revisiting familiar battlefields.

QUARREL AND QUANDARY

ESSAYS

Ozick's new collection of essays from such magazines as The New Republic and The American Scholar thoughtfully explores the delicately calibrated and often adversarial tensions that affect the relation between art and politics.

In her foreword, the author admits to resisting the political, but suggests that in writing on such highly politicized figures as Anne Frank and the Unabomber, she might have "willfully entered the lists of tenet and exigency." While George Orwell may have been right that the claim that "art had nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude," Ozick nevertheless resists those who chide Jane Austen for not criticizing British Imperial policy. Two notable pieces, "Who Owns Anne Frank?" and "Public Intellectuals," provocatively explore these two opposing positions. The first is a quiet but impassioned objection to the way Anne Frank's life (especially in the dramatized version of her diary) has been transformed into a universal message of hope and forgiveness that ignores the reality of evil. In Ozick's opinion, it might have been better if the diary had never been found. In the second, she chides E.M. Forster for making "art for art's sake" the theme of a speech he delivered at a writer's conference in 1941—as war raged in Europe. Two personal essays, "A Drugstore Eden" and "How I Got Fired From My Summer Job," are, respectively, an affectionate recollection of reading in the hammock behind her father's drugstore, and a wryly humorous account of misunderstandings and differing expectations. In other notable essays she compares Dostoevsky, a former radical, with the Unabomber; notes that the movie of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady is inferior to the novel, and again, referring often to James, explores an artist's need to be selfish.

Ozick is perceptive as usual, but these often seem like old war-horses revisiting familiar battlefields.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-41061-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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