This reprint of a 1976 UK edition (here published in the US for the first time) demonstrates that a columnist cannot always...

FURTHER CUTTING

FROM CRUISKEEN LAWN

Not yard debris, but more installments (1947–57) of The Irish Times “Full Jug” column by querulous comic provocateur O’Brien (The Poor Mouth, 1974, etc.).

Born Brian Ó Nualláin, Irish civil servant Brian Nolan—for 26 years known to Irish Times readers as Myles nagCopaleen (“Miles of the Little Horses”)—wrote five novels (notably the “sober farce” At Swim-Two-Birds, not reviewed) as Flann O’Brien. Here Myles, the unwilling pub eavesdropper, endures bores (“It’s a disease, you know”) and re-encounters the Brother, who reads and reviews books: “An engrossing story of mankind at handigrips with fate.” Myles also frequents the courts (having smashed a radio station’s recording of the Blue Danube Waltz after listening to 4,312 airings in one year), and he tries to calculate how fat you’d have to be to be seen dead in a field of wheat. Pedantry, faux-profundity, and windy clerics get hoisted skyward, although there are no notes to illumine burning issues now 50 years old. Exercised by architects wheezing about “vocation” (“I wonder at what price this art and sanctity cubes out on the job?”), Myles is quite comfortable tackling diplomacy (“Shake hands and be fiends?”)—for if musicians can descant on politics, why not politicians on consecutive fifths? A ringmaster of Higher Nonsense, Myles attains an apogee of non sequituria in one rhapsody which careens from Dublin theaters to “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” to a magazine psychologist’s warning that “You Can’t Always Card-Index Love!”

This reprint of a 1976 UK edition (here published in the US for the first time) demonstrates that a columnist cannot always be on form. The Best of Myles (1968, not reviewed) might be a better start, but O’Brien is always worth investigation by the converted, the curious, and the endemically lighthearted.

Pub Date: June 15, 2000

ISBN: 1-56478-241-7

Page Count: 189

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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