Ohrlander, Swedish journalist and playwright, takes a musing, hazy, sometimes rambling trip back to his daughter Asa's first year, in which she triumphs over cerebral palsy. The story is told in flashback by Asa, but since she was too young to have clear memories, she has supposedly gathered her information from the journals of her ``Mummy'' and ``Daddy.'' And herein lies one of the difficulties with the book—the wry observations made are ones too mature for a child of less than a year. Still, the writing is beautifully simple and crystal clear, with a childlike naivetÇ woven in. Set in late-1960's Sweden, the story begins even before Asa and her twin sister, Berit, are born. We met Gunnar, who writes revolutionary plays that a group called the ``Rabble'' performs, and his wife, a Maoist redhead with a tuft of green hair. Twins are born to them six weeks prematurely. When it becomes obvious after several months that Berit is developing normally while Asa lies in a peculiar stretched-out position, the doctors confirm the parents' fear that the child is a ``spastic.'' They decide to try a Czechoslovakian neurologist's revolutionary method of overcoming the baby's blocked movement. This ``Vojta'' method is simultaneously criticized and praised by the scientific community, and the parents agonize over whether they are doing the right thing, since opponents claim that the exercises, which allow other parts of the nervous system to take over and create normal movement by bypassing the brain, inflict extreme mental anguish upon on the child. The decision to proceed becomes even more difficult when Asa's parents see little progress. And the ending is a bit disappointing, as the story leaps from this time to five years later, with Asa able to cartwheel across the lawn but with no description offered of the time when she does start to improve. Still, a poignant recollection, rich with metaphor and irony.
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)