Few will argue with the worthiness of Schueler's intentions in recounting his experiences as a dedicated conservationist piloting as asthmatic van along the back roads of southern Mexico and neighboring Belize, visiting the wildlife preserves and Maya temple sites along the route. Having suffered a personal tragedy (the AIDS death of a longtime lover), Schueler means to demonstrate the healing power of travel and commitment—but he never clearly links his day-to-day adventures and his gradually improving emotional state. Schueler, depressed and disillusioned, picks up his story as he reluctantly heads south from Palenq£e Mexico into the Yucat†n. Uppermost in his mind is the faint possibility of sighting a jaguar, a cat that is rapidly vanishing even in the remotest sections of Central America. Passing through ramshackle country villages, he meets a series of colorful personalities—60-ish Anita, at whose home he spends a few weeks, becoming part of the woman's raucous, life-affirming family; Joann Andrews, a tough-as- nails organizer of the ProNatura Peninsula de Yucat†n, an organization bent on preserving the area's natural and cultural heritage; and members of the teams that discourage poachers and count bird populations in the nature preserves along the author's way. Eventually, though, a monotony creeps into Schueler's narrative—there's little to distinguish one nature enthusiast from another—even though the narrative picks up steam when it moves to Belize City, with its raffish denizens apparently more interested in boozing than bird-watching. Schueler finally does spot his jaguar, finding fulfillment in that triumph—but his road-weary readers are unlikely to share the joy.
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").
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)