Not altogether Wallace’s finest work, but it brings some welcome exposure to some of his best pieces.

BOTH FLESH AND NOT

ESSAYS

Previously uncollected essays and reportage by the late author, reflecting his varied interests, from tennis to Borges to higher math.

This collection is arranged not in terms of chronology but notoriety: It’s front-loaded with three pieces that Wallace fans have long wished to see in book form. “Federer Both Flesh and Not” is a bracing critical study of tennis star Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2006; though Wallace spent face time with the star, quotes are tucked into the author's trademark footnotes, and he writes mainly as a spectator admiring the power of the human body to perform at extraordinary levels. “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” is a potent 1988 essay on the roots of what he felt was largely threadbare minimalist fiction. “The Empty Plenum,” an encomium to David Markson’s 1988 novel Wittgenstein’s Mistress, explores the philosophical machinery behind the book and serves as a careful defense of avant-garde fiction. The remainder of the collection is weaker, composed of book reviews and brief essays on politics, sex and the writing life that feel less impassioned than commissioned. A report on the 1995 U.S. Open is a shallower version of Wallace’s infamous cruise-ship article, and a 2001 essay on prose poems fractures the traditional essay form into bullet points to little effect. The best overlooked work here is a set of usage notes contributed to the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus: Wallace has a blast riffing on the fine points of “pulchritude,” “unique,” “hairy” and other words. To stress his status as a lifelong word maven, the pages between pieces are filled with words and definitions from Wallace’s personal vocabulary list, from “croker sack” to “pyknic.”

Not altogether Wallace’s finest work, but it brings some welcome exposure to some of his best pieces.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18237-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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