A former Russia correspondent for NPR ends his gig by taking a train across Siberia, generating new experiences and remembering earlier ones.
Greene, who’s still with NPR as a host with Morning Edition, debuts with a journey that is personal and emotional, both actual and metaphorical. He begins by explaining his history with Russia: He and his significant other, Rose, moved there in 2009; the inability to speak or understand Russian remained an issue for both of them—but one they were able to surmount with the aid of Sergei, a translator who became one of the author’s best friends. During his journey of thousands of miles (Rose was with him only temporarily), Greene tells us about the hassles of traveling (security agents shadowing them), the explicit and tacit rules for behavior on trains, the charms of traveling third class (as circumstance occasionally forced them to do), and the people they encountered—both on the train and in the communities where they stopped. Greene had met some during other reporting excursions; others were strangers who shared rail compartments, managed hotels and drove public transportation. But traveling also provided Greene an opportunity to recall important experiences throughout his life. He recalls an intense conversation about hockey, a visit to a Holocaust memorial and a series of low points in his journalism career. In addition, the author offers quite a few quotations from other travelers and from Russian writers—Chekhov appears more than once. He also speculates continually about the Russian character: What do they really think about Vladimir Putin? Why does there seem to be lingering nostalgia for Stalin? How do they manage to deal with the almost Kafkaesque aspects of the Russian bureaucracy?
Glowing in its profound affection for the Russian people, an affection Greene convinces readers to share.
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)