AN AMERICAN HOMEPLACE

THE REAL WORLD OF RURAL AMERICA

Essays on rural life by NPR commentator McCaig (Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men, 1991; Nop's Trials, 1984, etc.). McCaig's historical piece about the remote Virginia region where he lives and why he gave up Manhattan is unfocused and gets the book off to an uncertain start. Nor do the two-page essays, written for radio, and the longer essays, created for publications such as The Atlantic, contribute to a unified whole. Read individually, however, McCaig's pieces are lyrical and timely. The joys of country life come through in meditations on being snowbound, when one can read in peace and savor the food one has laid by. Farm animals provide satisfaction: the pleasures of working stock with dogs, or the nearly human frailties of sheep. But McCaig has doubts about the life he and his wife have carved out: City friends are far more prosperous, and everywhere he looks rural communities are failing. There are fewer farmers; every old method, which took from the land but also preserved it, is being subsumed by the assembly-line style of agribusiness. In his concluding essays, McCaig seeks out several visionaries, asking, in effect, ``Can we save rural America?'' Helen Nearing and the now- deceased Scott Nearing were the famous radicals of the 1950's who, with Living the Good Life and its sequels, inspired ``back-to-the- land''—but McCaig feels the movement has died. Wendell Berry, while an admirable philosopher and poet, also seems anachronistic. The nearest thing to hope comes in Kansas, from Wes Jackson, with his elaborate experiments with the right crops for the right regions. McCaig brings a kind of loving humility to his subjects, a rare quality. His collection is uneven, but, at its best, pure and moving. (Twenty halftones—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-517-58487-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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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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