THE TWENTIES

FROM NOTEBOOKS AND DIARIES OF THE PERIOD

Borges says that the element that wears least well in writing issur prise. By that measure Edmund Wilson's works should prove quite durable. For the great enjoyment we receive from reading him comes from following a firm mind and a delicate sensibility as they encounter literary and historical texts, expounding on the "ideas and imaginings" within these texts "in the setting of the conditions which have shaped them," and then arriving at conclusions which are both sound and penetrating, but by no means startling. This critical method, precise and impersonal, ideally suited to the essay, seems however, not particularly apt for the memorial volume E.W. compiled from notebooks and diaries he kept during the '20's. Leon Edel remarks in his Introduction: "In the notebooks we meet for the first time the distinctively personal Edmund Wilson." Alas, that's hardly accurate. For the effect of the chronicle, though highly detailed, including revelatory glimpses of E.W.'s sex life (some of the material here was later incorporated in Memoirs of Hecate County), is a bit dim—an elegant but rather fragmentary panorama. Many famous names—people like Cummings, Dos Passos, Dorothy Parker, Frank Crowninshield, Elinor Wylie—pop in and out, but these portraits, as well as the "intimate" anecdotes, tend to be somewhat chatty and inconclusive. Wilson himself notes: "My reports are probably to some extent unfair, because it is always easier to tell about the ineptitudes and absurdities of other people than it is about similar occurrences on the part of oneself. The reader should make allowances for this and not allow me to give the impression that everyone else was gauche or ridiculous." There are some fine pictorial glimpses of the New Jersey shore, of Hollywood and Broadway and the Village; some moving data on family life; interesting travel sketches of the West Coast, the Midwest, Province town, Louisiana. Still the sort of"literature" that E.W. calls "the result of our rude collisions with reality" is not here.

Pub Date: May 23, 1975

ISBN: 0553028200

Page Count: 466

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1975

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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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