A pleasantly humorous nautical memoir.

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THE ACCIDENTAL CAPTAIN

Debut author Patron recounts his lifelong interest in sailing, which culminated in a 1998 trip across the Atlantic.

The author writes that he was a “passive, asthmatic, pudgy, sickly kid” as he grew up on Long Island in New York state—bookish but otherwise shiftless. But in 1955, his father bought him a boat for his bar mitzvah and said that the author could use it if he improved his flagging grades. Through sheer determination, Patron did so, and he took his first step toward what would become a lifelong obsession. After failing to earn degrees from several colleges and a stint working for his father’s industrial supply business, the author, who was fluent in Spanish, bought a floundering, unnamed business in Puerto Rico. While there, he joined a modest yacht club—“basically a bar with docks on a sand spit”—and gradually honed his expertise by cruising the Caribbean. As the author became more confident as a captain, he attempted more dramatic excursions, including one along the Anegada Passage, a 75-mile Caribbean strait that he calls a “crossing of fearsome reputation.” The pinnacle of his nautical achievement—and the climax of Patron’s charmingly informal memoir—is his daring trip across the Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island, to Portugal. He notes how he undertook the trip to Europe not out of heroic ambition, but out of simple enjoyment: “History, culture, good food, and so much of it accessible from the shoreline….Europe was more than a box of chocolates; it was the whole damn candy store.” Throughout this memoir, Patron offers appealingly lighthearted reminiscences, but they’re also instructive ones; some parts of his book read like a primer for would-be sailors and other parts, like a travelogue. The author also candidly discusses his own personal foibles—revealing, for example, that when his first marriage ended, he was nearly driven to bankruptcy. It’s unlikely that these recollections will attract a wide audience beyond his family and friends; for instance, most general readers won’t be riveted by his account of the two-day disappearance of his shipboard cat, Max. However, it will be a companionable read for passionate sailing aficionados. 

A pleasantly humorous nautical memoir.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9978694-0-8

Page Count: 268

Publisher: Ventura Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 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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