A debut collection of personal essays from a Montreal-born writer.
Chew-Bose is fascinated by life and especially by her response to it. She loves movies, painting, her skin, her name, the sound of her voice, her heart, and just about anything that occurs to her. Her debut is a work of self-examination and memoir, a young writer’s songs of herself. She opens the collection with the ambitious, lengthy “Heart Museum,” which begins as a rumination on the physical and emotional durability of the heart and quickly sidetracks into a hyper-referential stream-of-consciousness stroll through every subject that strikes her fancy, from cinematography to old boyfriends to random family memories to writing. Possibly taking her cue from Chris Marker’s great documentary Sans Soleil, Chew-Bose seems bent on creating an essay that charts a surprising and compelling course despite having no obvious destination. Instead, it becomes an increasingly fetishistic ramble that flies off on various tangents. “Groping through the dark is, in large part, what writing consists of anyway,” she offers at one point, perhaps by way of explanation. “Working through and feeling around the shadows of an idea. Getting pricked. Cursing purity. Threshing out. Scuffing up and peeling away. Feral rearranging. Letting form ferment.” The trend toward navel-gazing continues in the subsequent essays, but some also profit from a sharper, more direct focus, especially when the author addresses what it means—as a young woman from an Indian family growing up in mostly white Canada—to come to terms with cultural identity: “Nothing will make you fit in less than trying, constantly, to fit in: portioning your name, straightening your hair, developing a love-hate fascination to white moms whose pantries were stocked differently than yours, who touched your hair, admiring ‘how thick’ it was.”
Chew-Bose is an intense observer and cataloger of sensations, but this type of literary impressionism, where self-discovery becomes self-absorption, wears thin.
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").
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)