A wandering remembrance that offers astute commentary on the South.

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WOULDN'T BE FITTIN'

A MEMOIR OF CUSTOM AND COSTUME IN THE CHANGING SOUTH

A debut memoir that also reflects on the cultural transformation of the American South during the 20th century.

Haas-Bennett was born in 1927 in Durham, North Carolina, the descendant of old, Southern aristocracy, or as she puts it, “old plantation stock.” By the time of her birth, her family had little money but lived among antique relics of their former wealth—including furniture that they couldn’t afford to replace. Their area of North Carolina hadn’t received too many newcomers since the 1600s, she says, so intermarriage between distant family members was common—the author’s mother and father were fifth cousins. Haas-Bennett sensitively relates how the post-bellum South, in the middle of the 1900s, was experiencing a slow metamorphosis; while many vestiges of the Old South remained—particularly virulent racism, including segregation—there was also a liberal push for integration. She had plenty of occasions to experience this tense dichotomy; for instance, she and her first husband, writer Ben Haas, were threatened by members of the White Citizens Council, a pro-segregation group, when they withheld their support. After graduating from the Richmond Professional Institute College of William and Mary in 1948, the author opened a modest custom costume shop and designed clothes for dolls and debutantes, and this would remain her profession for most of her life. Haas-Bennett’s remembrance—co-authored by her former costume shop employee, debut author Hughes, who provides a prologue—is more anecdotally impressionistic than autobiographically exhaustive. As such, each chapter offers a charming, if meandering, vignette of recollection. The book concludes with a series of short contributions from those who know the author well, including her three sons and several former employees. Much of the Haas-Bennett’s attention is devoted to the idiosyncratic details of her life—which included two marriages and years of living in Austria—and although these reflections are relaxed and pleasant in tone, they’re likely to be of interest mostly to those who know her personally. However, her considerations of the South are remarkably nuanced while addressing its struggle with the legacy of slavery.

A wandering remembrance that offers astute commentary on the South.

Pub Date: May 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984228-65-9

Page Count: 375

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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