THE WEST POLE

Slight, self-satisfied essays on issues of Native American culture and identity. Glancy is an accomplished novelist (Pushing the Bear, 1996, etc.) and essayist (she won an American Book Award for Claiming Breath). But she is less successful here as memoirist and critic. This grab bag of essays, many written in loose verse, deals at length with her struggle to define herself as an Indian. ``I had no clear image of myself as a Native person,'' she writes. ``I was a part-Cherokee living on land that had belonged to another tribe.'' But her account of this process of self-discovery, of trying to reconstruct the lives and thoughts of her forebears, is diffuse and in the end not especially interesting; the subject of ``mixed blood'' identity is treated much better in Patricia Hilden's 1995 memoir, When Nickels Were Indians (not reviewed), and without Glancy's grating, New Agestyle platitudes (``I guess you can hear anything again. You can still scrape hides. If only through the imagination in your own head'' ). She thrives on circular arguments and questionable logic to assert her claims for Native identity, as when she defines a Native American as ``pretty much like any human being who had a high culture built on codes of honor and a behavior and way of life that were in harmony with their existence''—in short, pretty much like we all believe ourselves to be. She is still less convincing when discussing issues of literary theory. She equates, for no discernibly compelling reason, the adventurous spirit of Christopher Columbus with that of Thelma and Louise of movie fame, and she maintains as inarguable that Native American literature can only be viewed in Native American terms (which she never defines), an idea the literary scholar Arnold Krupat handily dispensed with in a recent study. ``What Native American literature and culture offer you is yourself,'' Glancy volunteers. There are countless better avenues to that discovery than the one Glancy follows.

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8166-2894-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1997

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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