A thoughtful recollection whose tone is perhaps more personal than universal.

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AT DEATH DO US PART

A GRIEVING WIDOWER ATTAINS HEALING AFTER THE LOSS OF HIS WIFE TO CANCER

Filmmaker Marx, best known as the co-writer and co-producer of the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams, recounts his grief after his wife died, as well as his lifelong emotional struggles.

When the author was 9 years old, his father suddenly died. It was a traumatic encounter with mortality that would haunt Marx for the rest of his life. He was plagued by thoughts of suicide; his teenage years were marked by rebellion, and at the age of 16, he left home to live communally with friends. He married in 2003, when he was 47 years old, and was forced to finally make his peace with the concept of death when his wife died in 2016 after a protracted struggle with cancer. The author found no solace in the Judeo-Christian religious tradition in which he was raised (which he considered “thoroughly inadequate superstition”) but he also studied and practiced Buddhism for much of his life. Debut author Marx’s eventful story seems tailor-made for a philosophically captivating memoir; his struggle with his inner demons supplies plenty of fodder for introspection, which he tackles with subtlety and candor. The end result is more of a meditative essay than a linear autobiography. However, it’s still a highly personal remembrance, dotted with excerpts from intimate correspondence, so it may appeal most to those who already know Marx well; those who don’t may have some difficulty relating to it. It is admirably forthcoming, however; he freely discusses his own private and professional foibles, as well as details of his relationship with his wife, including their sexual problems, with unreserved honesty. He also offers an unflinching account of her last days and his anguish in the aftermath of her death. Lost without his spouse, Marx turned to dissolute living before fully exploring the possibility of spiritual healing, and he insightfully and humorously describes his lack of success: “I failed at degeneracy. I couldn’t keep up the pace.” (Black-and-white and color photos included.)

A thoughtful recollection whose tone is perhaps more personal than universal.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9984062-4-4

Page Count: 237

Publisher: Warrior Films

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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