With werewolves now a hot fiction item (for instance, Michael Cadnum's St. Peter's Wolf, p. 416, or Dennis Danvers's Wilderness, p. 266), it's no surprise to see a ``true'' account of the hairy beasts. Too bad it's by the Warrens, those professional ``demonologists'' last seen facing down Satan and his minions (and Bigfoot too) in Ghost Hunters (1989). Before the Warrens enter the chronicle at hand (told in narrative, Q&A-interview, and diary forms), though, we're regaled in the alphabet-block prose of their usual coauthor, Chase, with the sad saga of Bill Ramsey, the book's fourth credited author. Ramsey, you see, was the werewolf—well, actually it turns out that he wasn't a werewolf at all but, as the text describes him, a ``wolfman'' like Lon Chaney, Jr., in those 40's horror films—well, actually it turns out that he wasn't a wolfman at all but a young working-class British bloke who thought he was changing into a wolf, which is why he tried to bite all those friends and young ladies and cops and nurses. But it wasn't his fault: The Devil made him do it. Which is where the Warrens come in. In England on a promotional tour (neatly continued in the text: ```The Warrens are the most fascinating people I've ever interviewed,' '' an anonymous TV producer is quoted as saying), they learn of Ramsey's plight and pinpoint it as demonic possession. A bit of persuasion and Ramsey is off with them to the States, where their old colleague Bishop McKenna, also last seen in Ghost Hunters (``He's a very earnest and devout man. You just don't see his kind around a lot anymore,'' says Ed) exorcises the invading ``demon,'' setting Ramsey free. Skeptics, please note the Warrens' assurance that this is ``a carefully documented'' case (they forgot to include the documentation, though). As for us: Grrrrrrrrrr....
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)