An endearingly picaresque set of family memories.

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FUNNY THINGS HAPPENED

FROM BRIGHTON TO BOCA

A thousand comic anecdotes illuminate an ordinary life in this genial memoir.

Debut author Karp, born in Brooklyn and now retired in Boca Raton, Florida, uses the bare bones of his upbringing, two marriages, and careers in the garment industry, real estate, and insurance as a framework for his stories about assorted misadventures. Episodes include youthful hijinks in his family’s Brighton Beach apartment building (“many complaints came to my mother about her juvenile delinquent son flooding the basement with soapsuds”); pratfalls in the Army Reserve (caught tanning himself with a reflecting sheet, the author was accused of flashing signals to Russian submarines); parenting tasks (“I took my drunken seven-year-old daughter home and certainly never told her mother”); a workplace Heimlich maneuver (“A two-pound wedge of rare roast beef came flying out of his mouth and bounced along the floor like a hockey puck”); and romantic exploits as a rare and sought-after widower on the torrid Boca seniors dating scene (“We certainly did not agree on political philosophy, and when she asked me about a second date, I told her that I would be vacationing in North Korea”). Famous faces make cameo appearances—pop singer Neil Sedaka, a boyhood friend; candidate Barack Obama, who shook Karp’s hand at a campaign rally; movie star Rex Harrison, whom Karp spied being carried out of a Madrid restaurant dead drunk. Most of the vignettes are wryly humorous, but some have darker edges (“When they saw me, they stopped fighting, and when I realized that the man on top had a gun in his back pocket, I jumped back in the car”) while others, like a scene of the author corralling strolling musicians to serenade his wife, are tender and wistful. There’s not a lot of rumination in this album of breezy, cheerful, random snapshots, but together they add up to a vivid, warmhearted portrait of postwar Jewish-American life, full of hope and laughter.

An endearingly picaresque set of family memories.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64237-100-0

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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