Hotly anticipated in 2020: The Believer’s Read Hard with a Vengeance.

READ HARDER

Nineteen essays, often funny and sometimes poignant, from the journalists, essayists and novelists long admired by the editors at McSweeney’s Believer magazine.

Upon its launch, the founders of the magazine said, “We will focus on writers and books we like. We will give people and books the benefit of the doubt.” Soon after, a critic described the magazine as “highbrow but delightfully bizarre,” which fits the bill. This new collection of essays by the likes of Nick Hornby, Susan Straight, Lev Grossman and Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah certainly strikes that unique and iconoclastic tone—McSweeney’s founder Dave Eggers’ tastes and style are all over this collection, if not his name. Edited by founding editors Park (Personal Days, 2008) and Julavits (The Vanishers, 2012, etc.), the collection spans a wide range of literary criticism, celebrity profiles, journalistic nonfiction and humorous ephemera. It opens with “The Disappearance of Ford Beckman,” by Michael Paul Mason, a story that wouldn’t go amiss in Esquire, concerning an iconic American artist reduced to making donuts at Krispy Kreme. Closer to the end, novelist Leslie Jamison examines a bizarre, Tennessee-based endurance test called the Barkley Marathons. On the literary front, mystery novelists Sara Gran and Megan Abbott tackle the enduring legacy of V.C. Andrews, while journalist Zach Baron delves into the late Robert Jordan and the finishing of the Wheel of Time saga. It can be a jarring transition, following Jeannie Vanasco’s examination of erasure (the art form, not the band) in “Absent Things As If They Were Present,” with Rebecca Taylor’s “Virginia Mountain Scream Queen,” remembering a lowbrow history in B-movies, but it’s refreshing, too. It’s really best to jump around—only readers can best decide if they should start with “How to Scrutinize a Beaver” (on 18th-century anatomy) or “If He Hollers Let Him Go” (chasing the ghost of comedian Dave Chappelle).

Hotly anticipated in 2020: The Believer’s Read Hard with a Vengeance.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-940450-18-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Believer Books/McSweeney's

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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