By turns amusing, enlightening, and plaintive, the former kid from Newark who became editor of Vogue remembers her rise and explains her fallwith a little dishing on the side. The daughter of Italian immigrants Florence Bellofatto and Anthony Mirabella, a Ronrico rum salesman who gambled too much and introduced the daiquiri to America, Grace Mirabella launched herself at the postwar fashion establishment because she wanted to be around the best of everything. Rejecting retail, and with a degree from Skidmore and a lot of dancing at the Stork Club under her belt, in 1952 she invaded the WASPy CondÇ Nast world of Babses and Babes, of young editors chosen for their long legs and their connections to the Rockefellers. Women worked at Vogue to earn ``pin money,'' and it was infra dig to ask the cost of anything. Mirabella represented the arrival of the working woman at Vogue; she wanted to celebrate real clothing for really stylish and talented women, clothes that they could use to live full lives. Mirabella tells of her years as Diana Vreeland's assistant; she admires Vreeland's brains and glamour while at the same time cataloguing her eccentricities and excesses. After Vreeland's firing in 1971, she bemoans her own lack of loyalty to her former boss in taking her job. With the advent of the venal '80s, Mirabella also lost favor and was fired after a 17-year tenure. (The editor learned of her dismissal only after Liz Smith announced it on TV.) She blows a few poison darts at the fashion celebrities who made her life miserable, including Richard Avedon and Alex Liberman, the ``yellow Russian'' (in Vreeland's words), and describes her rebound to begin the magazine bearing her name. Occasionally the sad tale of a fashion victim, but most often an interesting, chatty view of the trenches at CondÇ Nast and in women's journalism. (32 b&w pictures, not seen) (Author tour)
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)