A WINDOW ON RUSSIA

FOR THE USE OF FOREIGN READERS

The glory of the late Edmund Wilson, as Frank Kermode remarked, has always been "his ability to identify, even if he could not completely describe, the master-spirit of an age." Other critics are more analytic or more systematic, but none quite match Wilson's grasp of culture and history, of movements and men. In A Window on Russia, which Wilson modestly calls "a handful of disconnected pieces, written at various times when I happened to be interested in the various authors," we encounter that rare pleasure of entering a living world where the dead hand of academia never casts its shadow. True, the essays are uneven, the earlier surveys of Gogol and Chekhov, for instance, are slight affairs, without the range and poignancy of Wilson's studies of Turgenev and Tolstoy and Pushkin. True, he is no phrasemaker. He tells us that "Gorky rightly said that Tolstoy and God were like two bears in one den," and there is nothing in his own remarks on Tolstoy that equals the pithiness of Gorky's remark. Yet how memorably Wilson builds up a character, an era; how fascinating are his fussy data and leisurely summaries; how easily he makes his points: the bureaucrats who flourish under the Soviets as they did under the Tsars, the peasants who suffer from one regime to another, the melancholy authors who universally despair of Russia yet cannot bear to be parted from her. Included in the current miscellany is the famous controversy between Nabokov and Wilson over Evgeni Onegin, which first appeared in The New York Review, and two really splendid chapters on Svetlana and Solzhenitsyn which appeared in The New Yorker.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 1972

ISBN: 0374511411

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1972

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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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