Bugialli (Giuliano Bugialli's Foods of Italy, not reviewed) provides some unusual, challenging recipes—not an easy feat in the crowded field of Italian cookbooks. However, what is just a good cookbook could have been a great one with the inclusion of more information. A brief introduction explains the provenance of his recipes (many researched as far back as the 14th century) and declares that they derive from various regions, but the recipes themselves are free-floating, without subheads (i.e., it would be nice to know which region each comes from) and with few hints to facilitate preparation. The photographs, while luscious, are no help either since they often do not coincide with Bugialli's instructions. For example, in the recipe for Spaghetti with Air- Dried Cherry Tomatoes, Bugialli instructs the cook to toss pasta, tomatoes, and parsley in the casserole used to cook the tomatoes, then serve, but the photograph shows a serving bowl of pasta with tomatoes and parsley on top still waiting to be combined. Even more vexing was Schiacciata (a flat bread similar to focaccia) with Fresh Grapes. While the result was delicious, it looked nothing like the example, which was rectangular in shape even though the recipe calls for rolling the dough out into a circle. Nor is it clear why one should fit a 16-inch circle of dough into a 14-inch pan. Could the disparity have been due to the tough dough? No clues are forthcoming. A treat for those who enjoy leaping in with little guidance, but not for the novice. (Book-of-the-Month Club selection)
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)