Sometimes-provocative material residing in a collection that often feels forced together.



An eclectic collection finds Lazar (Creative Writing/Columbia Coll., Chicago; Occasional Desire, 2013, etc.) attempting to reach beyond category, or at least beyond the personal essay.

The author’s hyper self-awareness may well be a mark of the personal essayist, often tempered by self-deprecation or wry humor, but the tone here is generally too elevated for that. Even the opening essay, “Ann; Death and the Maiden” is mostly about Lazar, who confesses, “writing this makes me queasy. I hope for obvious reasons.” Maybe not as queasy as readers, who learn about the writer’s former student, manic-depressive and suicidal, still married, with whom he conducted a sexually explosive relationship of “film noirish meetings in back alleys and cheap motels.” She wouldn’t take her medication and went off the rails, and they drifted apart; ultimately, he found out about her death on Facebook. “Have I been a flaneur of some of my own darkest impulses with some of my friends and a woman I’ve loved, being close enough to my own worst-case scenarios to feel their hot breath while watching others take the heat?” Both “flaneur” and “queasy” seem to be touchstones in the author’s writing, though he insists in a conversation on the essay (the collection’s longest piece) that when he writes of himself, it is never “just for the sake of my own self-analysis. The idea of that makes me queasy.” There are distinct parts to this collection: memoir-ish personal essays, ones that are more academic about the nature of the essay and the relationship of writer and reader, and a series of aphorisms that features a section on “Mothers, Etc.,” with drawings to illustrate. Among the nonmother aphorisms: “Far from the madding crowd—inside it. The flaneur”; “Hell is where you mostly live; heaven is where you rehab.”

Sometimes-provocative material residing in a collection that often feels forced together.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4962-0206-2

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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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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