Grossman’s engaging debut memoir contrasts her years as a postulant nun with her later, secular life.
During her all-American upbringing in small-town Illinois, Grossman defined her life by her relationships to both the Catholic Church and the summer carnival, which serve as this well-structured memoir’s symbolic poles. As “a good girl, programmed into perfection mode,” she instinctively avoided the “sin and debauchery” that the carnival seemed to represent. Instead, she found comfort in the discipline of the church of her “grandfatherly God.” However, she became troubled by this strict division between body and spirit when she entered adulthood. As a teenager, she wore tight skirts and tried to attract male attention. She took her failure at romance as proof that she actually had a religious vocation, although friends and family tried to dissuade her. Once inside the convent, she found that the regulations were stringent: One should never criticize or question nor pursue any sort of individuality. “Convent rules whittled away my personality,” Grossman writes. She endured five years as Sister Greta before a chance viewing of the 1965 movie The Sound of Music convinced her there was life outside the church. The day she left, June 23, 1966, marks both the beginning of her new life and her book’s midpoint. The memoir’s latter half may be less compelling than the hothouse atmosphere of her Catholic formation, but its lyrical descriptions and excellent re-created dialogue, based on contemporaneous journals, enliven the story. The author caught up on everything she missed, attending feminist discussion groups, seeing risqué films—and resuming dating. Before long, she was engaged to an Alabama journalist who bought them both luxurious clothes and an extended European honeymoon. “Self-indulgence was a novelty,” she admits, but their lavish lifestyle masked fundamental incompatibility. A Chicago teaching career and single parenthood might not have been what Grossman always envisioned, but she now gracefully accepts the course her life has taken: “We were not a storybook family, but a dear family nonetheless.”
An absorbing, unpredictable life story inside and outside the church.
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)