Readers who prize outdoor experiences—and tiny houses and the simple life—will find this book a source of much pleasure,...


Literate journeys to some of the world’s less-traveled places, seen through an unusual lens.

British travel writer Richards (Climbing Days, 2016, etc.) comes by his wanderlust naturally. Before he was born, his father spent time in the remotest reaches of Svalbard, the Arctic island chain, from which he brought home a polar bear’s pelvis. As he writes in an arresting opening, the object fascinated Richards, but more so the thought of living in a shelter such as the one his father called Hotel California, which a bear would probably tear apart in a minute. “An unremarkable garden shed, the only thing that makes it a shed of note is the fact it’s there, stood on Svalbard,” he writes before embarking on a fascinating series of journeys. There are the literarily famous sheds, of course, such as Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond and the one Jack Kerouac scaled a mighty Cascade peak to groove in, guided by Gary Snyder. Richards climbed the same mountain, having eaten a burger the night before with the admonishment that the joint would be dead, “D.E.D. Ded,” in a quarter-hour, “the most American thing ever said.” The author also traveled to Iceland to visit “houses of joy,” which serve as “refuge stations for travellers crossing the hinter/highlands,” joy-giving spots that offer shelter from the storm, “modern bunkhouses on ancient foundations.” Some of the sheds, huts, and shelters Richards chronicles are works of art, literally, such as a Danish construction called Shedboatshed: “I liked it the moment I saw it as a shed at Tate Britain and took an even greater pleasure in it once I’d learnt its backstory.” Others are invested with meaning, such as the Japanese mountain stronghold called Nageire-dō, “the Oz of shrines.” The author was also able to travel to Svalbard to have a look for himself.

Readers who prize outdoor experiences—and tiny houses and the simple life—will find this book a source of much pleasure, bears and all.

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78689-155-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Canongate

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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

Did you like this book?



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

Did you like this book?