OUTRAGEOUS ACTS AND EVERYDAY REBELLIONS

The world didn't lose a great journalist when Gloria Steinem focused her energies on feminist activism—but because she was a working journalist (and, from 1968, political columnist for first-person-prone New York magazine), the light bulb goes on right here. This first collection of her writings (also, her first book) leads off with autobiographical comments: on the speaking she's done instead of writing, and how difficult ("a major hurdle in my life") and ultimately rewarding it was (kudos on both scores to her black lecture partners); on her earlier writing career, or the frustrations of frivolous, "girl reporter" assignments; on her first stabs at "telling the truth in public" and other outcomes of a "growing consciousness." From the pre-feminist writing, she includes only "I Was a Playboy Bunny"—a 1963 "exposÉ" of the crippling grind, the miserable pay, the sexual harassment (said a co-worker: "If you can type, what the hell do you want to be a Bunny for?")—and the first parts of a section of campaign reports, 1965-72. It's there, in 1968, that the "Feminist Realization" (born of covering women's meetings) hits home—eliciting the kind of protest that would quickly become a groundswell: "Six months ago I would have been honored by McGovern's invitation to a 'serious' (i.e., male and therefore grownup) political meeting, but full of doubt about whether I could contribute in a 'serious' (male) way. . . . I couldn't admit that any power relationship in life is political: therefore politics for women may be who's doing the dishes, or who's getting paid half the wages that a man would get for the same job, or who's expected to take the roles of service and support everywhere, including in political campaigns." A dozen pages later, after the 1972 Democratic Convention (Chisholm for president, Farenthold for V.P.): "Women are never again going to be mindless coffee-makers, or mindless policy-makers. . . ." That sense of being in at the creation is diluted by the non-chronological arrangement of the pieces in the remaining two-thirds of the book—pieces that are essentially feminist polemics whether the subject is food (women's smaller share or "Erotica vs. Pornography," (good) Jackie Kennedy or the (bad) heroine of Sophie's Choice. A partial exception is "Ruth's Song (Because She Could Not Sing It)," Steinem's previously unpublished memoir of her mentally-disturbed mother—whom she regards as a victim but also celebrates as a life-force. Still, her particular talent has been for perceiving the feminist angle, in her own writing and for Ms., and spreading that recognition. If some of the ideas here sound hackneyed, she has honest claim to them.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1983

ISBN: 0452257107

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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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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