A widow draws life lessons from her experience of loving and losing her spouse.
This slim volume from McGillicuddy (A Friend Who Knows the Tone, 2016, etc.) is filled with reflections spurred by the death of her husband, Francis, from cancer in 2010. They met in 1968, and the book’s title refers to a regular ritual that the author’s husband began in the 1990s, when he would make an early-springtime pilgrimage from his home in Portland, Maine, to the uninhabited homesteads of his ancestors in Canterbury, New Brunswick. He called it “communing with his ancestors,” and he clearly didn’t use the phrase in a maudlin or sentimental way. McGillicuddy uses a similarly heartfelt approach in this book as she recalls her best memories of her husband. She stresses that the practice of communing with ancestors isn’t just for Catholics like her husband but for anybody, and she fleshes out this notion and others in a combination of exposition, journal entries, and poems. In anecdotes throughout the book, McGillicuddy also recounts her own journey through the long, complex process of grieving, touching on her quiet Christian faith. These include frequent moments that will be familiar to those who’ve lost a loved one; at one point, for instance, a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto by the Portland Symphony Orchestra evokes strong memories of listening to a recording of the same piece on a record that her husband gave her in 1970. She also recalls holding a potluck benefit event where a guest commented that “Francis is among us”; she was moved to respond, “Indeed he is!” These and other delicate vignettes serve to clarify the book’s sense of loss and raise it to a feeling of companionship. McGillicuddy comes to the realization that “Death is not a catastrophe but instead the door we must pass through to return home.”
A concise and intensely personal collection of memories of a loved one.
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)