A collection of stories, lists, sayings and brief meditations aimed at dozens of aspects of life. Hoban’s frequently thought-provoking debut contains snippet-length segments and scenarios interspersed with maximlike mottos, themed lists and occasional pieces of poetry. The long, generously full collection of odds and ends is designed to challenge assumptions and undercut rote thinking. Hoban recounts many stories from his years as a prison employee and includes accounts of the things inmates typically say and think. But the range of his vignettes extends a good deal beyond: He can be topically political, as when he hopes that former U.S. President George Bush (most likely W) will never publish his memoirs and thinks that if he does, he should write them without the aid of ghostwriters—“I suspect his incoherence would reveal itself,” Hoban writes. More frequently, he can also be congenially philosophical, probing the nature of human thought and often summarizing things quite pithily: “Awareness is extinguished when it is used in service of self-abasement,” he writes in a segment titled “Duality.” There are brief bits on evolution, the complexities of communication styles and the persistence of “demons” in the human world. “Alcohol abuse, in contemporary society, is one example of belief in possession,” he says, which flows from his earlier claim that “Ninety-nine percent of getting help is asking for it.” Themes are expounded upon then seemingly disappear and crop back up with studied regularity; the coherence to these bagatelles is belied by their randomness. The book sometimes falls into the trap of too-easy aphorisms—lines like “there is no evil, only error,” for example, may sound fortune-cookie profound, though there’s not much to chew on. Yet far more often, the muscular compression of Hoban’s thinking is rewarding rather than frustrating, as when he draws on his employment history for metaphors: “Epoch to epoch, we continue to be in a prison where we fixate on bars of our own making while failing to see what lies beyond them.” The result is a book virtually guaranteed to have something to interest almost every reader. An opinionated, ultimately optimistic series of reflections on the nature of humanity.
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)
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").