For those as interested as the artist in the limits of satire, this audacious, potent collection pushes past them.




A cartoonist’s collection of graphic provocations on Zionism, the Diaspora, and Jewish stereotypes.

When Valley began publishing these cartoons in the Forward, they ignited “a series of debates on the meaning and limits of satire that would endure throughout my time at the newspaper.” He was accused of anti-Semitism, self-hatred, and Nazism. If satire’s aim is to ruffle feathers and stir things up, these strips most certainly succeeded. In this collection, they will likely rile readers again, particularly those who feel a strong allegiance to Israel or fear that such pointed humor concerning Jewish issues and clichés will simply feed a prejudice that has never disappeared. As Peter Beinart writes in his foreword, “Eli Valley’s cartoons are outrageous and absurd.” They are also explosively subversive, with a MAD-meets–R. Crumb sensibility. At the crux of these comics is the tension between the cultural assimilation (and dilution?) of American Judaism and the anti-assimilation militancy of Israel. In the one-page comic “Israel Man and Diaspora Boy,” the former is a muscle-flexing superhero, while the latter is a drooling cripple with a crutch. He wails, “My entire existence is a useless waste, Israel Man!” And Israel Man responds, “Have no fear Diaspora Boy! I am here to replace you!” This may not be sophisticated political analysis, but much of the value lies in Valley’s thoughtful and reflective annotation, which does not pull any of the punches he has struck with his drawings but provides some context on the current events that inspired him, the thinking that went into each piece, the process of publication (or not; some were spiked), and the reader’s response. As he proceeds through subjects including Jewish ambivalence toward Barack Obama, Darth Vader (“Half-Jew”), Bernie Madoff, Amy Winehouse, Charlie Hebdo, Bernie Sanders, and Batman and Robin, it is clear that the author knew exactly what he was doing and what sort of reaction he would receive.

For those as interested as the artist in the limits of satire, this audacious, potent collection pushes past them.

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68219-070-8

Page Count: 150

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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