An insightful and entertaining, if philosophically uneven, memoir.

ASSHOLE ATTORNEY

MUSINGS, MEMORIES, AND MISSTEPS IN A 40 YEAR CAREER

A lawyer recounts his eventful professional exploits.

Wood (Presidential Intentions, 2014) was a peripatetic army brat who grew up in eight different houses over the course of his childhood. His father, he says, was a highly decorated soldier whose intemperate drinking devolved into alcoholism after a tragic accident left Wood’s mother a quadriplegic. The author writes that he was a shiftless student, but he made it into the first freshman class of the new Franklin Pierce Law Center (now part of the University of New Hampshire), founded in 1973, and subsequently earned a law degree from New York University in 1977. He worked for more than 30 years as an attorney in the advertising and entertainment industries, running his own firm at one point. He also worked as the “chief negotiator for the advertising industry,” he says, overseeing its collective bargaining arrangements with the Screen Actors Guild. This memoir is more of an impressionistic collage of vignettes than a thorough autobiography, although it generally unfolds in a chronological, linear fashion. Many of Wood’s remembrances are intimately revealing; for example, he reflects poignantly on the deaths of his mother and father, and lovingly relates the courtship of his wife of 35 years, whom he met in fifth grade. The focus of his reminiscences, though, is his legal career, which had its share of drama. The book’s longest memory reads like a comic tale of espionage, in which he’s exposed to danger in Poland and Cuba while representing the Phillips Beverage Company. Wood’s prose is crisp and anecdotal, and he’s refreshingly unafraid to poke fun at his misadventures. Not all his stories are equally gripping, but many are lighthearted and amusing; for example, he tells of unintentionally paying $14,000 at auction for a cigar humidor signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wood often draws lessons from his experiences, summarized in the concluding chapter, which seems infused with a misanthropic cynicism similar to his father’s, who said, “Remember this. People are no damn good.” However, contradictorily, Wood also imparts several tales of astonishingly good people, including a law school dean who volunteered to pay the author’s tuition. 

An insightful and entertaining, if philosophically uneven, memoir.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9988617-2-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Plum Bay Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more