A few of the parts are more powerful than the whole.

THE BLACK INTERIOR

ESSAYS

Uneven collection of nine essays by Alexander (African-American Studies/Yale) examining the role of the black artist in the larger culture and within the black community.

Early on, the author articulates her intent: to reveal what she calls the “black interior . . . black life and creativity behind the public face of stereotype and limited imagination.” She pursues this goal variously. Several essays explore the lives, imaginations, and creations of black artists and pioneers, among them Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Michael Harper, and Anna Julia Cooper. Others meditate on the significance of various cultural artifacts and historical events, including the murder of Emmett Till and the O.J. Simpson trial. Another group provides lengthy and not always engaging explications of poems by noted black poets. (Alexander is herself the author of three poetry collections.) The pieces here certainly display the considerable range of Alexander’s interests as an essayist, though the results are mixed. Her literary analyses, overly technical for general readers, will no doubt interest professors of prosody. The more personal essays are appealing and even riveting, especially one about the evolution (or lack thereof) of Jet, which she calls a “little lozenge of a magazine.” Another very strong essay, “A Black Man Says ‘Sorbet’,” explores the image of African-American men in American culture by focusing on Johnnie Cochran, Colin Ferguson, Basquiat, and David Hampton, whose weird story inspired John Guare’s play Six Degrees of Separation. She again pursues the issue of the black man’s image in “Denzel,” indulging in an overlong exegesis of the film Ricochet before emerging with the unremarkable observation that buddy movies frequently float on streams of homoerotic energy. It’s also hardly necessary for Alexander to tell us that Louis Armstrong was a jazz trumpeter. Her concluding piece on the Rodney King case, however, is a tour de force.

A few of the parts are more powerful than the whole.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-55597-393-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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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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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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