Fractured but elegant musings on dying and, most poignantly, living.

OF ALL THAT ENDS

Last words and images from the Nobel Prize–winning writer.

In this posthumous collection, Grass (1927-2015) offers brief, gentle, intimate meditations illustrated by his own soft pencil drawings. Some pieces look back with nostalgia and even surprise at the author’s past. Discovering more than 200 drawings and watercolors that he made when he was an art student, he feels “amazed” and searches his memory “trying to find the young man in his early twenties” who was passionate about craft. He recalls his start as a writer, “setting down words early on,” excited when he received an Olivetti typewriter, “sleek and elegant in form, as if Leonardo da Vinci had invented the typewriter on the side.” Even in the age of computers, Grass remained true to his Olivetti, stocking up on ribbons that became increasingly scarce. In many pieces, the author considers the losses that come with old age: his senses of taste and smell, the pleasures of a woman’s breasts, and teeth, reduced to only one, “single, who wants to show how stalwart he is.” A poem entitled “Self Portrait” begins, “Old codger, chewer of gums / fit for nothing but spooned pap.” Lost, too, was the ability to travel, and Grass was reduced to tracing a finger on a map. “It’s hard to let go,” he writes. “Some things are easier / others give rise to howls of complaint.” He complains, for example, about a world in which some favorite foods are considered offensive—e.g., pig’s kidneys, breaded brains, beef liver. His children exclaim “Sickening!” when he reprises the flavors of his past. Of the few benefits of old age, the lessened need for sleep is one: “sleep,” he remarks, “is a waste of time.” He and his wife decided to have their coffins made, discussing shape, wood, and types of handles with a master carpenter. When the finished products arrived, they had “our trial lie-in,” and then, he writes, “life went on as usual.”

Fractured but elegant musings on dying and, most poignantly, living.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-78538-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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