A debut author traces his family’s history, decade by decade, from the early 1900s to the present day.
In each chapter, Bright summarizes the major historical events of a 10-year span before recounting specific stories of himself and his family in detail. The author’s grandfather, Tom Bright, was married six times, and the family eventually spread from Ontario to Montana. They were mostly hardworking farmers, and these late pioneers in the first few chapters provide the most intriguing portions of his story, as well as wonderful, old photographs. The author’s recollections of his father, Ray Bright, riding in a cattle car across Canada in 1907 to start a new homestead are engaging, and other rich historical details bring the family’s first isolated farms to life. In 1923, Ray proposed to a local Ontario girl named Lottie Sampson, and in 1929, the author was born; he would eventually have a total of seven siblings. Thanks to his parents’ work ethic, the family would grow up “liv[ing] like kings” by Depression-era standards, despite not having electricity until 1949. Bright eventually attended theology school, where he married a young teacher named Marian Roberts; they lived with her mother, had five children, and taught at various schools around Canada throughout the prosperous 1950s and ’60s. Bright’s memoir diligently documents vacations, births, and job changes up to the present day, including Marian’s tragic passing and his new happy marriage to Betty Hamm in 2009. The inclusion of so many precise details makes the first few chapters feel dense with engaging material. However, later chapters, which cover more familiar narratives of road trips and graduations, become repetitive. The story and prose are most interesting when Bright examines his ancestors, instead of himself; several of them deserved more time in the spotlight, including the author’s eccentric vaudevillian uncle, Hart DeMille. Later accounts of new jobs and weddings, though, never seem like more than a thorough chronology intended for Bright’s immediate family, and general readers may wish for more stories of the pioneers.
A memoir that offers a promising look into the early 20th century but never brings the same excitement to its tales of more recent years.
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)