A writer recollects an astonishingly dysfunctional childhood under the violent, criminal tyranny of his father.
According to debut author Crow, his father, Thurston, was as intelligent as he was dangerous—apparently the bearer of an uncommonly high IQ, he was also alarmingly volatile. Thurston spent time in prison for nearly beating a man to death and often bragged about other murders he committed or planned to perpetrate. He was also an unrepentant thief who recruited the author to be his accomplice in crime. When Crow was not yet 4 years old, Thurston confided in him that he would soon get rid of Thelma Lou, the author’s mother. Thurston finally forced Crow to orchestrate their abandonment of her. Thelma Lou was mentally disturbed, and her combination of incompetence and motherly negligence consistently endangered her children. The author idolized his father, nevertheless, and pined to become “smart and strong and brave” just like Thurston, sometimes perversely winning his praise for ungovernable mischievousness. Crow struggled at school—he was diagnosed with dyslexia—but still managed to graduate from college and eventually win a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture administration. But Thurston’s madness continued to haunt the author—his father tried to pull Crow’s sister, Sally, into a conspiracy to commit a crime. The author finally felt the need to stop his father and found the courage to try. Crow’s memoir is cinematically gripping—the depth of Thurston’s sociopathic depravity is as riveting as it is repulsive. The author deftly relates that his father conceived the conspiracy with cunning cynicism: “Dad’s logic was simple: He knew that if he involved Sally…she would ask for my help, even when she swore to keep silent. And he knew that I wouldn’t let anything happen to Sally.” Crow writes with confessional frankness and affectingly depicts a childhood lost to emotional and physical abuse. He also thoughtfully captures life on a Native American reservation—Crow partially grew up on a Navajo one.
An extraordinary remembrance that’s both gut-wrenching and inspiring.
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").
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)