A bibliophagist snacks and dines, sharing with us some of the tastiest bits.




A longtime writer in a variety of genres presents a potpourri of pieces, arranged thematically, from the past few decades.

Acclaimed essayist Spufford (English and Comparative Literature/Goldsmiths Coll., Univ. of London; Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York, 2017, etc.) offers not just a variety of subjects here, but also a variety of sources. Some were originally blog posts; others, traditional journalism, including book reviews and features; still others, talks and speeches, many of which have been revised. Throughout the collection—in texts dating back to the 1990s (though most are of recent vintage)—run a number of brightly colored threads. Among them is the author’s vast and passionate reading and his fondness for technology. He peppers each essay—though never excessively so—with allusions to numerous other cultural figures, ranging from Shelley (husband and wife) to James Bond, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Francis Bacon, Pinocchio, and Oscar Wilde. Spufford’s affection for books, even when tacit, is patent. He writes about the excitement of entering the world of a book—comparing it to breaking the seal on a new container of instant coffee—and about the emotions of finishing a book. As a book reviewer (he includes a few samples here), the author displays a generosity of spirit, a willingness to try to discover what the writer was trying to do, and he provides long appreciations of Kipling and of the Arabian Nights. Although his political liberalism continually comes through, he will no doubt disappoint some liberal readers new to his work with his sturdy defense of Christianity. Also included are several sharp pieces that rebuke the “new atheists” (Richard Dawkins et al.) as well as some impressive pieces about the Soviet Union, which, at one time, “had a reputation that is now almost impossible to recapture.”

A bibliophagist snacks and dines, sharing with us some of the tastiest bits.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-300-23005-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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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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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