A zinging, furious output of epistles from the young Corso—most date from 1958 to 1965—to his friends and publishers, assembled by Morgan, archivist of Allen Ginsberg's papers.
The letters start just after publication of Corso's The Vestal Lady on Brattle and continue with abandon until dope and alcohol finally got the better of him in the mid-’60s. They reveal a Corso vital to the point of rioting, spiritedly all over the place, intoning to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “I somehow do believe that only great poetry can be written on the spot, and when finished done,” after having noted to Ginsberg that “spontaneity in poetry is nothing more than notes, not poems.” They display a remarkable degree of self-infatuation—“Read Howl and liked it because it's almost like my Way Out,” he writes to Ginsberg—equal to his willingness to indulge in self-pity: “Things are very difficult for me,” he writes to Ferlinghetti, “life is becoming too real. When I see it that real, I feel not a poet.” Or, to Ginsberg, the pathetic, “you well know how I used to wow ’em, Allen.” That he became the sensual lyric poet at all is a wonder upon reading long letters to Kerouac and Isabella Gardner, in which he relates his less-than-ideal youth: the orphanages, reform schools, psychiatric wards, prison—and forget about formal education—all before he hit 20. His past gave him a sense of protective fellow-feeling, which flowed into the poetry, and a generous measure of mistrust, fear, and hunger for approval—a need for love without the pro quid quo—that formed his life. The letters from the ’70s and ’80s, but a trickle, promise new work, but fail to deliver.
Much food for thought here, all best taken with a grain (or two) of salt. Only Corso could willfully utter, “The poet and his poems are a whole,” knowing well that one could be sensitive, the other cruel, one responsible, the other destructive.
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)