THE GOOD CIGAR

A CELEBRATION OF THE ART OF CIGAR SMOKING

Here's a guidebook for the new generation of affluent stogie enthusiasts. A vile habit to many, a delight to a happy few, cigars are increasingly alight. Misogynist or, lately, simply antisocial, smokers placidly ignore the fulmination of the cigar police for the inexplicable pleasure of wreathing themselves and any innocent bystanders in a stinky haze. Writer Jeffers (Gentleman Gerald, 1995, etc.) and artist Gordon offer acolyte puffers a cigar manual a notch or two above the usual. Along with a history of the habit and a description of the cultivation and manufacture of the thing, the authors provide a guide to all the arcana and etiquette, personages and purveyors, terminology, doggerel, and epigrams of cigar smoking. (One apt epigram they omit: ``Tobacco is the opiate of the gentleman, the religion of the rich,'' said Cabrera Infante in his matchless Holy Smoke). Particular homage is paid to the great promoter Zino Davidoff—which seems altogether appropriate; parts of the text are reminiscent of Davidoff's The Connoisseur's Book of the Cigar. It's all easy and good-natured. There are no complaints about the insane inflation of cigar prices spurred by the new Baby Boomer demand. No stand is taken against the barbaric habit of leaving the band on a cigar as it is smoked. (But even Davidoff, alas, equivocated on this important point.) The authors may be forgiven for stretching a simile here and there. ``The first time you smoke a cigar,'' they say, ``it is like the first time you have sex.'' They neglect to point out that one of those firsts is more likely to induce nausea than the other. For cigar zealots, old and new, here's another accoutrement to place beside the humidor and the clipper. (illustrations and cigar ratings, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1996

ISBN: 1-55821-516-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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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