A literate, thoughtful memoir/essay collection from the heartland.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH

Bauer, a Boston-based writer and teacher (Literature/Bennington Coll.; Prairie City, Iowa: Three Seasons at Home, 2012, etc.), was once an Iowa farm boy. In these deeply personal essays, he celebrates his family’s life in the Hawkeye State.

Age-related ailments are the author’s evocative madeleine in his search for times past in the American heartland: Cataract surgery on the day his mother died results in a warm recollection of her life; an echocardiogram for tachycardia brings forth more rural family history; in his knee, a torn meniscus carries memories of the girls for whom young Bauer pined. The author remembers the kitchen aromas, the tractor growls, the working Iowa weekdays and the quiet Sundays in a genial, gentle manner. It’s as homely as checkers, modest as an outhouse, and, too, elegant and cleareyed. With his narrative artistry, Bauer renders the commonplace uncommon. He ably brings to life his forebear farmers and their diligent wives, the mean-tempered coal-miner grandfather in his bib overalls and his wife, and the corpulent grandmother. Bauer reimagines his parents’ youthful romance and paints, as well, their later, more fraught relationship. His mother always admired well-maintained farm tillage, and his father grew more taciturn as their bond became more caustic. After he died, her memory of married life became anodyne again. Early in his writing career, Bauer was befriended by the notable food critic and essayist M.F.K. Fisher, who, in important ways, seemed to become another maternal influence. And so the answer to the rhetorical question of this work’s title is clear. As the memoir reaffirms, we live and love, and the years pass, to be relived in memory of those who follow. It’s fortunate, then, to be memorialized in essays like these.

A literate, thoughtful memoir/essay collection from the heartland.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60938-183-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Univ. of Iowa

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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