A compelling book offering something to offend nearly anyone.



By the end of this impassioned book, readers may question whether it has proven the thesis of its title, but there’s no question that the author meets fire with fire, leaving scorched earth on both sides of the critical divide.

In Reality Hunger (2010), Fakes (2012), and even the psycho-biographical Salinger (2013), Shields (Other People, 2017, etc.) has focused on what is really real and refused to settle for easy answers. He suggests that the left’s bad faith has paved the way for Trump: “the pitiful veneer of ‘genteel society’ that he has gleefully ripped away, how full of shit so many people on the left are, not because they’re wrong per se but because they’re so committed to an Oprah-ized, airbrushed, focus-grouped, ultimately empty language in which they can’t convince anyone of anything anymore.” But if liberals’ hypocrisies have left the country starving for something more authentic, then the joke’s on us—and maybe on Trump as well. “Trump is always playing Trump—fighting to win, but win what or why? He has no clue and knows he has no clue,” writes the author. “And he knows we know he has no clue. And his lostness, his irreducible sadness is what I find so compelling, almost moving, about him.” This may well be a singular perspective on the subject, and since Shields knows that Trump is such an easy target, he doesn’t spend much time taking potshots. Instead, he lets Trump write a large portion of the text, quoting him at length (sometimes out of context), while aiming his venom at those in the culture who might mediate and interpret. Thus, NPR: “Anything—anything—is better than onesy-twosy earnestness. I literally can’t stand to listen to it anymore.” And David Foster Wallace, “who killed himself—partly, I think, because he worshipped ‘fiction,’ which had completely deserted him.” If Trump is no more real than the reality TV that created the monster, then Shields clearly believes that the era of polite discourse is over and that the brutal truth is the only truth there is.

A compelling book offering something to offend nearly anyone.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-945796-99-9

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Thought Catalog Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2018

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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