An inaccurately titled work, but one that may expand the consciousness of yoga aficionados.




A young man grows to understand his spiritual identity in Yin’s debut biography.

Before future yogi Altair Shyam was born, his mother, Mary, encountered a Maori elder in Nelson, New Zealand. The elder revealed that she would have a son of great spiritual importance, who would share with her visions of his past lives and his future. When Shyam was 13, Yin writes, he encountered Hannah, “goddess-like” figure in her 20s, who introduced him to the secrets of “the stars” and “magic,” by giving him a book by Paramahansa Yogananda and another called the Kybalion from her library. Yin then asserts that Hannah was an extraterrestrial being who led Shyam, blindfolded, to a pyramid, where a “Master R” revealed that the young boy had spiritual powers, including his ability to “speak to dolphins, snakes, and beings from other worlds.” Shyam later visited key spiritual centers across the globe, including in Japan and Nepal; along the way, Yin says, he had personal encounters with spiritual beings, such as Jesus Christ and Babaji. Yin, who says that she met Shyam “very early on in his travels,” writes this book in the third person; as such, it’s a biography, rather than a diary, despite the title, although there are rare extracts from Altair’s own diaries. Shyam’s transcendental practices are often imparted in dialogue: “When I make my mind still by breathing in the central spine…patterns become clear in my mind like a matrix. They look like energy grids, sparkling paths of the soul which appear like pictures connecting one to another in my mind.” Such passages may be deeply insightful for yoga practitioners. However, it’s unclear whether these are Shyam’s exact words, as there are no references or citations provided. The prose is crisp throughout, but readers won’t get the high level of intimacy that they may expect from a diary. The author asserts that all the experiences in this book are real; each reader’s enjoyment will be tempered by whether he or she believes in their veracity.

An inaccurately titled work, but one that may expand the consciousness of yoga aficionados.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982212-29-2

Page Count: 194

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


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

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