An illuminating and hopeful account of inmate rehabilitation through Buddhist teachings.

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SAINT BADASS

PERSONAL TRANSCENDENCE IN TUCKER MAX HELL

A retired education professor corresponds with prisoners who find peace through Buddhism.

Introduced to inmates at the Maximum Security Unit in Tucker, Arkansas, through his social activist daughter, Carnine (How Love Wins, 2017) began corresponding first with debut author Tester, eventually widening his epistolary acquaintance to three others. Tester had been drawn to meditating after seeing a fellow prisoner at Tucker Max discover tranquility through the technique. Carnine, a lay Buddhist minister, encouraged Tester and the other inmates—debut authors Bruno, Griffin, and Price—not only to meditate, write letters, and read the books he sent, but also to practice kindness with the other prisoners. The four men seemed unlikely Buddhists, having already committed crimes that were against the religion’s teachings. But Carnine, along with his wife, Linda, encouraged their development over a several-year period. While some of the acolytes occasionally slipped up—using cash Carnine sent them for the kindness project for their own needs—the enterprise overall succeeded, helping the originators find a degree of serenity in their circumstances and introducing both inmates and prison employees to Buddhist principles. In this absorbing book, the four incarcerated authors share their back stories; all of them were raised by abusive parents in unfavorable and unpleasant circumstances. While their early hardships fail to justify their eventual heinous crimes, the information does enlighten readers about their life experiences. The inclusion of excerpts from letters and the varying points of view enrich the text. As with the inmates’ back stories, the injustices and crimes committed inside Tucker Max will be eye-opening, if not shocking, to many readers. The prisoners’ occasional despair—particularly that of Tester, who also suffers from debilitating pain—is often palpable. While Carnine may have edited the contributions of his co-authors, the book is well-written. Some of the inmates’ jargon may be new to readers, but Carnine supplies a brief, useful glossary of Buddhist terms.

An illuminating and hopeful account of inmate rehabilitation through Buddhist teachings.

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9980509-0-4

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Mindful Kindness Project

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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