Witty, wise and full of insights.

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Turnip Juice & Satisfaction

QUITE A FEW EXTRAORDINARY WAYS OF LOOKING AT ORDINARY THINGS

An entertaining collection of original aphorisms, irreverent quips and offbeat wordplay by new author Sykes.

Borrowing the wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain and the offbeat perspective of Jack Handey, Sykes provides hundreds of captivating, thought-provoking and occasionally puzzling reflections about everyday life. The book is organized into 14 chapters, some with biting titles (“Lawjerks & Lie-yers,” “Age & Dotage”), others amusing (“Love, Marriage & Other Reconcilable Differences”), and some reflecting a more jabberwockylike sense of humor (“Oddvice,” “Perplexplanations” and “Qwhystions”). Sykes perspicaciously studies the everyday as economically expressed in pithy sayings, epigrams and free-verse poetry. Some entries are wise and quotable: “Love your harness, and your load will pull you.” Others are silly: “If your enemies say you’re too big for your britches, the best thing to do is look good in tight pants.” However, the book is most engaging when Sykes uses that popular comedic construct: the paraprosdokian, a rhetorical device in which the latter part of a reflection is so unexpected that it causes the reader to reframe the first part. For example, Sykes writes: “The human capacity for delusion is amazing. Some New Yorkers, for example, actually believe they’re outdoors when they’re in Central Park.” Most of Sykes’ musings would serve as valuable fodder at a lively dinner party of sharp-witted wags, philosophers and comics. However, the intended ironies sometimes get lost in tangled declarations: “If you’re planning to bite the hand that feeds you…plan to eat the hand too, since hunger’s going to come back in either case long before dinner ever does.” Elsewhere, Sykes occasionally misses the mark when concocting new words—“reMorse Code,” “flaccid flagpoles,” “gymnauseum”—that don’t quite live up to Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” These few miscues detract from an otherwise exceptionally entertaining book.

Witty, wise and full of insights.

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492340379

Page Count: 304

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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