In her debut memoir, Prada recounts the frustrations and anxieties of dating men in her 30s.
The author freely admits that she’s a “late bloomer”—a single schoolteacher who, at 30, lives with her hard-of-hearing grandmother in the San Francisco Bay Area. In this book, she recounts a string of unsuccessful relationships, with each man neatly encapsulated in his own chapter. There’s James, her first kiss; men with fanciful pseudonyms, such as “Dante Prosecco” and “Rich Calamari”; an array of Irish beaus (Seamus, Finn, Connor); and a Japanese surfer named Hiro. “No matter where I was, I was a magnet for foreigners,” she writes. “What can I say? I’m a sucker for someone funny who also has an accent.” Prada gives a complete account of the way the men entered her life—through school, via a mutual friend, or, more often than not, while drinking at an Irish bar—as well as the various confusions and insecurities that come with courtship and, inevitably, the breakups. One engaging story recounts a relationship that was particularly disastrous: at one point, Prada had to track down and steal back a car from an untrustworthy ex. But other accounts make for less-compelling reading. The book is more of a dry catalog of romantic happenings and the back-and-forth of flirty conversation than a narrative with memorable scenes. Tonally, it reads like a chatty monologue delivered over glasses of pinot grigio, complete with self-deprecating asides, constant worrying, and evaluations of the quality of men’s teeth. Prada sometimes strikes notes of humor—“Send me your poor, emotionally and geographically unavailable, huddled masses, yearning for credit or codependency, or just yearning to break free (probably from prison)”—or pathos (“How long had [he] been going around telling people…that he was trying to shake me, like some annoying piece of lint from a fuzzy sweater?”). But she focuses so heavily on the intricacies of each romantic entanglement that she leaves little room for deeper self-reflection. In this regard, the book’s resolution is no exception—like the author’s relationships, it’s ultimately unsatisfying.
A comprehensive account of one woman’s love life that loses its overarching narrative in the details.
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)
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").