For sale: century-old Joye Cottage, 60 rooms, including 12 baths, billiard room, ballroom, 100-foot veranda; needs work. Smith and Naifeh offer a lighthearted look at what it took to recreate this mansion and build a life in Aiken, N.C. The authors (A Stranger in the Family, 1995, etc.) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for their biography of Jackson Pollock. The day in 1988 that they delivered the manuscript, they also visited the real estate section of Sotheby's in New York and fell in love with this palace of a cottage, created in 1897 for his second wife by William C. Whitney, a multimillionaire robber baron who became secretary of the navy in President Grover Cleveland's cabinet. The asking price was $1,700,000—crashing plaster ceilings, leaking roof, and all. Raising the threat of nuclear destruction from the nearby Savannah River nuclear-bomb plant, the authors offered $200,000, and the harried owner took the offer. A long procession of laborers, vividly described, began showing up at Joye Cottage. There was the stylish Mordia Grant, who headed the clean-up crew and supplied constuction workers; Lucky Dale, the chimney sweep and ``king of pack rats,'' who happily recycled the mountains of basement trash (including a five-ton boiler and a telephone pole). Bubba Barnes was the chief contractor, charged with repairing and replacing the pipes, wiring, marble, fixtures, plaster, floors, and windows, work that ``created a cloud of plaster dust sure to affect weather patterns over the Southeast for years to come.'' Chapters on the inevitability of Murphy's Law are interspersed with the history of the house and of the Whitney family. The nearly finished renovation, carried out in a spirit of ``discovery, accomplishment and community,'' was celebrated with a local hunt ball. A deft, amusing look at history, life, and people in a small southern town, as well as at a large-scale adventure in renovation. (18 b&w line drawings)

Pub Date: May 3, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-59705-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1996

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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