A muted self-portrait of an introspective, spiritually grounded family physician. Loxterkamp chronicles one year in his life, from July 1992 to June 1993, in the small, blue-collar town of Belfast, Maine. His daily pattern is to rise at 4:30 a.m., make coffee, feed the cats, put on some sacred music, and then, while his wife and daughter are still sleeping, sit down at his computer and write in his journal for two hours. The book drawn from those journals offers a richly detailed picture of a physician's life bearing little resemblance to Norman Rockwell's version of the country doctor. Loxterkamp shows us a man fighting off depression, an outsider working hard at belonging to a community, a family-practice physician who sees specialization in medicine changing the world around him, and a husband whose marriage is going through rough times. His medical practice seems to alternate between deliveries and deaths; there are plenty of encounters with the hardscrabble poor for whom alcoholism and despair are the chronic diseases shaping their lives. A committed Catholic and an admirer of Thomas Merton's autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, Loxterkamp attends faith-sharing meetings at his parish church, often wears a chasuble and stole to deathbeds, and goes on retreat to a Trappist monastery. He's also a champion worrier, a dogged runner, a conscientious doctor, and, unfortunately, a rather pedestrian writer. He speaks of celebrating the little things, and of what May Sarton called the ``sacramentality of the routine,'' but here the abundance of details of Loxterkamp's everyday life deadens the reader's interest. Unlikely to inspire many young physicians to take up the life of a country doctor.
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").