BRIEFING FOR A DESCENT INTO HELL

The briefing, one of a very few fixed points in Miss Lessing's self-styled "inner space fiction," takes place well above the clouds at a conference where Minna Err and Merk Ury (oh dear) decide to send some delegates to Hell, or Earth, to reclaim the planet from aggressiveness and irrationality and "separativeness." (The latter is an important contention in this driven polemic namely to the effect that it should not be "I.I.I.I." but We.) Those sent will be totally disassociated and will struggle and struggle to wake up, if at all. Like the at first unidentified man in Central Intake Hospital who is totally amnestic and spends the first third of this book cycling around and around and in and out and in and through a prismatic primordial world (from a raft at sea to the land to the ruins of a stone city). Eventually he will be enclosed in a "bell of light" where everything is fused and influenced by the pull of galactic forces. All of this section is accomplished in a violent blaze of lyricism. In the second half of the book the patient has been subdued and there are the attempts to bring him back — he's a professor — via his wife and friends and the diametrically opposed efforts of attending Drs. Y. & Z. Readers of The Four-Gated City will remember Miss Lessing's earlier projection of madness and strong attack against psychiatric techniques and resources. When last seen the professor has been returned to his work and family and one never knows whether or not he will retrieve what he has been trying to remember in these weeks of vertiginous submersion. As for the reader (this time certainly a more reluctant reader than Doris Lessing usually attracts), what will he remember from this imaginative spin-off of cosmic abstractions and sometimes arbitrary judgments? Perhaps only the primary message of the book that the individual is only a small part of humanity which is in turn only a small part of that grand design.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0307390616

Page Count: 317

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1971

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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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