The navel-gazing about the pluses and minuses of modernization is expendable, but Holliday provides a lively snapshot of an...

EATING KOREA

REPORTS ON A CULINARY RENAISSANCE

A British journalist who lived in Korea in the 1990s chronicles his return in 2015, when he found the culinary landscape transformed, mostly for the better.

It didn’t seem promising when a friend took Holliday (Eating Viet Nam, 2015) to a small restaurant in downtown Seoul and invited him to eat pizza flavored with fruitcake, proclaiming, “this is the future.” While teaching in Korea 20 years earlier, the author fell in love with its down-home, superspicy food; fruitcake pizza was not his idea of a good development. However, he was excited by the new pride Koreans take in their cuisine, no longer embarrassed that it is “too smelly, too spicy.” So Holliday decided to travel around the country sampling its quintessential dishes. He fears—as he notes a few too many times—that traditional Korean food is disappearing like the old hanok bungalows bulldozed to make way for skyscrapers. On the contrary, he discovered, the new cooks take pride in reclaiming old recipes. As the narrative moves out of Seoul into the provinces, the author makes palpable the “glorious stench” and mouth-burning tastes of a highly spiced cuisine, from kimchi to bibimbap, a one-bowl festival of flavors that is a specialty of the city of Jeonju. Like many food books, the parade of one meal after another can become wearying, and Holliday’s lingering descriptions of textures and substances that are bizarre by Western standards (“it was as if a urinal cake were now lodged inside me”) are not for the squeamish. But his cook’s tour also includes interesting observations on Korea’s rapidly changing society: the increasing assertiveness of its once-subservient women counterpoised against the rage for plastic surgery, its “quickly-quickly” culture contrasted with the mysterious concept of han, a state of soul combining “irresolvable pain [and] unrealizable dreams” that Koreans regard as a uniquely national quality.

The navel-gazing about the pluses and minuses of modernization is expendable, but Holliday provides a lively snapshot of an ancient culture in transition.

Pub Date: April 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-240076-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more