A grand tour of America's ``most visible, vulnerable, and emblematic'' desert place, the Mojave. With the same enthusiasm and devotion he brought to two previous books (In Condor Country, 1987, and his exploration of zinfandel, Angel's Visits, 1991), Darlington takes on the Mojave, home of the Joshua tree and Death Valley, and the setting for many a western film, a wilderness only a day's drive away for over 40 million Americans. As Darlington notes, deserts no longer project the evil image they once did of deadly, godforsaken lands, their vegetation twisted, their inhabitants even more so (Charles Manson was a desert dweller, as was Bugsy Siegel). Today, says Darlington, these sere spaces are considered not bizarre but awesome, not barren but austere, quite beautiful and full of life. And life Darlington finds, in spadefuls, as more and more people have been drawn to the Mojave: some good folks, some venal, most eccentric, and almost always entertaining. He searches for the southernmost Joshua with an iconoclastic museum curator; pokes about with geologists and historians as they seek to find out what went on there in the recent or distant past; spends time with a rancher in an effort to understand the impact of grazing on such a fragile environment; hangs out with low-rents and high-brows, UFO watchers, miners, ORV fanatics, all of them, for their own reasons, devoted citizens of the arid wilds. The author ponders why the desert is so dumped on, from common garbage to nuclear waste. He savors the desert's fauna, particularly in a superb rendering of the tortoise, and he is especially good at capturing the desert as a land of opposites: epiphanic and excruciating, sensual and despairing, wide open yet palpably mysterious: ``In its enormity, it constantly challenges you to comprehend it, to come to terms with infinity.'' The best kind of place study—it makes you want to go there.

Pub Date: April 23, 1996

ISBN: 0-8050-1631-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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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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