The author’s recollection of the love he found and left in Napoli, artfully told.

FALLING PALACE

A ROMANCE OF NAPLES

A reverie of Hofstadter’s days in Campania is evoked in vibrantly loving terms by the smitten reporter (The Love Affair as a Work of Art, 1996, etc.).

For every tourist to Naples, the view of the blue gulf shimmering in the sunshine, Vesuvius in the mist, may be unforgettable. But that’s not what this book is about. Somehow lodged under the rubric of nonfiction, this is no more a travel book about Naples than Death in Venice is a guide to the old city on the Adriatic lagoon. As Hofstadter’s subtitle suggests, it’s a romance with a felicitous setting and a characteristic supporting cast. In the background, there are the roaring Vespas and the busy piazzas, the tripe “dripping over the tripe altars,” the lotto-betting and the colorful native Neapolitans. There’s Donato, the wedding photographer; Luca, the hustler with his inflatable crèche; Michele and Salvatore, the geographers of subterranean Naples; Gigi, the stuttering actor; Gennaro, the radio soothsayer. Co-starring with the author, who takes the classic role of ex-pat writer, is mysterious, fetching Benedetta. The story he tells of their transitory reunion after a three-year hiatus is relayed with a cinematic attraction. Chapter headings (“The Letter,” “Signora Perna and the Other World,” “Benedetta in Springtime”) are redolent of his tale, which, in truth, fits somewhere in the literary twilight betwixt factual personal history and engaging fictive memory.

The author’s recollection of the love he found and left in Napoli, artfully told.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-41440-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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