UPSTATE

RECORDS AND RECOLLECTIONS OF NORTHERN NEW YORK (NEW YORK CLASSICS)

Anouilh once said "When you're forty, half of you belongs to the past — and when you are seventy, nearly all of you." Mr. Wilson's retrospective belongs wholly to that past and, except for the initial section dealing with a still earlier one, it is based on the diaries he kept during the last twenty years which he has converted here into a book — "a last effort to fill a vacuum"? In the beginning all seems lenitive and harmonious as he writes about the upstate New York countryside, "beautiful but now empty," with perhaps a "cold storage" quality but still the house and landscape where he belongs — it is his "pied a terre in stability." At the end too there are spot touches which are reciprocally saddening as one contemplates the reductions of old age (his heart, his hearing, and of course his teeth), his estrangement from the small community in which he lives, and his difficulties with so many people, even Elena his friend of twenty years on whom he is admittedly dependent. In fact Mr. Wilson is often unpleasantly contentious with apparently very few "raisons que la raison ne connait pas." He is uncharitable toward almost all the friends and compeers of his life: nitpicking with Nabokov whose arrogance he shares; commenting on the death of Hemingway "absurd and insufferable though he often was," and Thurber's after his "vastations"; he is even minimizing about his other very good friend Helen's cancer; and of course sometimes he is wickedly funny — Walter Edmonds reading only historical novels "as if following the stock market of his own investments." At the outset there is a tribute to his cousin, Dorothy Mendenhall, who became one of the first woman doctors and she is heard saying "the worst thing about old age is the rapidity with which your periphery shrinks." Mr. Wilson is aware of it even if he makes few concessions to that diminishing world of his experiences and relationships. You will find him antipatico which is just where the tattletale quotient of this memoir is heightened; but then, after faulting Van Wyck Brooks for paying too much attention to all the reviews of his books, you will find it depressing to think of Mr. Wilson getting up at four o'clock in the morning to read "old reviews of my books.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0815624999

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1971

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more