A HOUSE ON THE OCEAN, A HOUSE ON THE BAY

VOL. III, MEMOIRS

In this third installment of his memoirs, novelist Picano (Like People in History, 1995, etc.) revisits his life amid the fabulous gay crowd in Manhattan and Fire Island during the libertine '70s. Picano begins by describing his life in Manhattan before his first novel was published in 1975, when he was 31. As his success grew, he began gradually to spend more time on Fire Island in the summers and came to feel at home among the other artsy types who frequented the discos and beaches—and who cruised the island's al fresco gay ``meat market.'' Often Picano is incisive about his creative and romantic struggles, and he vividly captures the ebullient mood of gay New York in its pre-AIDS heyday. But scattered through the book are distastefully self- aggrandizing passages in which he asserts his personal and professional merits. For instance, he airily pontificates about the elements of his own childhood he put into one of his characters, ``the truly superior child who operates outside all norms, all conventions: for want of a better word, the genius. . . . I'd revealed a superior talent as a child.'' Picano notes the sales figures of his novels Smart as the Devil (1975) and Eyes (1976) and, as if he's desperate not to be thought a hack, explains how complex and rewarding these books are. Without redeeming irony, he goes on at length about how supremely attractive and desirable he and his two closest friends were considered by the Fire Island smart set. Perhaps most off-putting is Picano's evident conviction that the endless drugged-up days of sex and dancing and more sex during the late '70s added up to some kind of golden age of gay culture. Those who share this conviction are likely to be Picano's most receptive readers. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 22, 1997

ISBN: 0-571-19913-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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