That sense of joy infuses these gentle essays. “Old age sits in a chair,” writes Hall, “writing a little and diminishing.”...

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ESSAYS AFTER EIGHTY

The writing life at age 85.

In this collection of 14 autobiographical essays, former U.S. Poet Laureate Hall (Christmas at Eagle Pond, 2012, etc.) reflects on aging, death, the craft of writing and his beloved landscape of New Hampshire. Debilitated by health problems that have affected his balance and ability to walk, the author sees his life physically compromised, and “the days have narrowed as they must. I live on one floor eating frozen dinners.” He waits for the mail; a physical therapist visits twice a week; and an assistant patiently attends to typing, computer searches and money matters. “In the past I was often advised to live in the moment,” he recalls. “Now what else can I do? Days are the same, generic and speedy….” Happily, he is still able to write, although not poetry. “As I grew older,” he writes, “poetry abandoned me….For a male poet, imagination and tongue-sweetness require a blast of hormones.” Writing in longhand, Hall revels in revising, a process that can entail more than 80 drafts. “Because of multiple drafts I have been accused of self-discipline. Really I am self-indulgent, I cherish revising so much.” These essays circle back on a few memories: the illness and death of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, which sent him into the depths of grief; childhood recollections of his visits to his grandparents’ New Hampshire farm, where he helped his grandfather with haying; grateful portraits of the four women who tend to him: his physical therapist, assistant, housekeeper and companion; and giving up tenure “for forty joyous years of freelance writing.”

That sense of joy infuses these gentle essays. “Old age sits in a chair,” writes Hall, “writing a little and diminishing.” For the author, writing has been, and continues to be, his passionate revenge against diminishing.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0544287044

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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