Sartre writes plays as if they were detective stories and this latest play is no exception to the rule. It moves within a high velocity of mystery designed to keep the audience awake at all costs. There are five principal characters — a German industrialist, his two sons, a daughter and a sister-in-law, but there is sufficient plot to accommodate a host of others. The hero of the play is one of the sons, Franz Gerlach, who represents the innocence of Germany betrayed by the terror of Hitler. He returned from the Russian front to cloister himself for thirteen years in his room. Here he had once harbored a Jew, fleeing from a pre-war concentration camp. His father has six months to live and now attempts to persuade the mad son to return to life. Gerlach's other children, the son destined to inherit the family fortune, and the daughter carrying on an incestuous affair with Franz, live under the domination of the man in the room. The main plot resolves itself when Franz confronts his father and, regaining his sanity, admits his guilt in the Nazi terror: he had been a torturer and his father was an informer. Both destroy themselves and the incestuous sister enters the room of guilt to commence her penance as the play ends. Fast moving, with considerable action and psychological revelation, The Condemned of Altona is a play in the European style. It has only one weakness — common to most modern European plays. The playwright, although affirming a love for humanity in the abstract, never seems to display any compassion towards his characters. Still it is exciting reading and should be better theater.
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").
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)