Edmund Wilson, the dean of literary journalism, the author of Axel's Castle, the man who refuses to acknowledge unsolicited mail, unpublished manuscripts, or any mass-media requests, friend of legendary figures and a bit of a legend himself, 71 years old and still pouring forth, the only contemporary reviewer ever to have reprinted his "literary chronicles" from the Twenties onwards to the present, a polyglot, a paragon of taste, honored by all, even the White House- how pleasant, then, to attack so prestigious a personage! Alas, one cannot: The Bit Between My Teeth, a two volume collection of his pieces (mostly from The New Yorker) produced over the last fifteen years, offers not the slightest occasion. One is reduced to repeating the same boring encomiums: Wilson is delightful asia stylist, far ranging in his interests, a scholar of the first rank but never a pedant, judicious, adventurous, brilliant. Here you will find two splendid studies of Pasternak and Zhivago, an unusual assessment of Eliot, lengthy, learned accounts of Swinburne, de Sade, Cabell, Malraux. The variety of subject matter is, as always, striking: Mencken, Shaw and Beerbohm, as well as the philologists Partridge and Tolkien; the Holmes-Laski correspondence and Kennan on Russia; books about mushrooms and home furnishings; Dawn Powell's Greenwich Village and something wonderful called "My Fifty Years with Dictionaries and Grammars ("...and I have discovered that reviewing conjugations and declensions is a very effective device for putting oneself to sleep"). Wilson's great gift is his ability to instruct painstakingly yet painlessly, to make vivid the most abstruse material; never windy, never inflated, reading him is always to be in touch with literature and life.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 1965

ISBN: 0374506248

Page Count: 710

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1965

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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...



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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