High-octane lit-chat served cold, heavy on the bitters.



Personal strangers and intellectual compadres discover they have a lot to complain about.

This yearlong collection of correspondence between writers who have never met—novelist and essayist Epstein (Essays in Biography, 2012, etc.) and screenwriter/novelist/biographer Raphael (A Jew Among Romans: The Life and Legacy of Flavius Josephus, 2013, etc.)—reveals a blossoming intellectual romance between provocateurs who hold nearly everything but each other in contempt. They loathe Susan Sontag, Hannah Arendt, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and anyone associated with the New York Review of Books; they like Henry James, Proust, ballet, the Greeks, Maugham and Balzac. They weigh grievances on editorial politics and prices, nurse old wounds, and match each other point for point on English and American culture and which of the two is more Jewish. The bonds tighten on more personal matters: Epstein mentions an upcoming birthday, which happens to be on the day before the anniversary of Raphael’s daughter’s death; Epstein knows the feeling of dread, having lost a son of his own. Raphael is the verbal highflier, studding every sentence with arcane references and French phrases, against which Epstein’s casual erudition usually comes as a relief. Both score good lines. Raphael, on Edmund Wilson’s fight with Vladimir Nabokov over the latter’s translation of Eugene Onegin: “E.W. had only himself to blame when Pushkin came to Shovekin.” Epstein, suspecting a writer named Eric Korn is actually a Korngold: “No one of the Hebrew persuasion is named Korn; he must have had the nomenclatural version of rhinoplasty done on his name.” They see through the sham of modern culture but not each other; they are mutual enablers, never noticing that their puns get lamer, spite more stale and grapes more sour.

High-octane lit-chat served cold, heavy on the bitters.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0300186949

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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