A deeply satisfying, beautifully crafted collection of work by a writer of uncommon excellence and humanity.


Fiercely intelligent essays, reportage, and reviews from the award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer.

In a generous gathering of 25 pieces published since 1995, Pinckney (Black Deutschland, 2016, etc.), who once carried around James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son “as if it were a training manual,” examines the African American experience, past and present, from the deeply observant vantage point of a black, gay intellectual. The most compelling pieces illuminate events—e.g., the “shower” of self-help at the Million Man March and tensions on the streets of “sundown town” Ferguson, Missouri, where the author bonded with protesters after the police shooting of Michael Brown. Each is exquisitely detailed, set firmly in history, and filled with personal reflections, unfurling in the beguiling manner of longer pieces in the New York Review of Books, where much of this book first appeared. The title essay describes Pinckney’s arrest for smoking marijuana “in the dark of Sixth Street” in Manhattan. Writing with understanding and skepticism, he examines the centurieslong “surveillance” of black people, Soul on Ice at 50, the black upper class, and the first Obama inaugural in ways that meander pleasingly between distant and highly personal. The lives of his “NAACP faithful” parents are touchstones, as are the careers and works of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, all considered here. The author first traveled to Europe in 1971, at age 17, and returned to live in Berlin for several years in the 1980s to escape America and racism. Of the 2016 election and the resurgence of white supremacy, he writes: “I mind this happening when I am getting too old to run from it. Shit, do not hit the fan.” Other essays tell the story of blacks in Russia, explore the recent revival of Baldwin’s work, and celebrate the art of Aretha Franklin, whose songs remain a soundtrack in Pinckney’s life.

A deeply satisfying, beautifully crafted collection of work by a writer of uncommon excellence and humanity.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-37-411744-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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

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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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