An erudite tour of the American literary landscape from one of its most important observers.

THE AMERICAN CANON

LITERARY GENIUS FROM EMERSON TO LE GUIN

A deep consideration of significant American writers, from Emerson to Pynchon.

For more than 50 years, Bloom (Humanities/Yale Univ.; Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism, 2019, etc.) has produced incisive literary criticism, offering both close readings of writers’ works and their place in what he considers to be the American canon. Drawing from published volumes, several long out of print, and assorted other sources, Mikics (English/Univ. of Houston; Bellow’s People, 2016, etc.) gathers a sampling of Bloom’s essays on writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to represent the scope and depth of the critic’s capacious interests. Organized chronologically by the writer’s birthdate, the collection begins with Emerson, whom Bloom considers “the inescapable theorist of all subsequent American writing. From his moment to ours, American authors either are in his tradition, or else in a counter-tradition originating in opposition to him.” Bloom is much focused on “the anxiety of influence” between one writer and another, a theme he explored in one of his early books, The Anxiety of Influence (1973), and which emerges throughout his criticism. Essays tend to focus on what Bloom considers a writer’s exemplary work rather than their entire oeuvre: The Portrait of a Lady dominates the essay on Henry James, whom Bloom deems the “subtlest of novelistic masters (excepting Proust).” He regards Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon a greater achievement than Beloved and The Great Gatsby more worthy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “canonical status” than “the seriously flawed Tender Is the Night.” Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts seems to Bloom a “remorseless masterpiece,” far above anything else West produced and surpassed only by Faulkner’s most well-known novels. Although he finds “West’s spirit” in some of Pynchon’s novels, “the negative sublimity of Miss Lonelyhearts proves to be beyond Pynchon’s reach, or perhaps his ambition.” Besides defending his own evaluations, Bloom sets his views alongside those of many major critics, including Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson, Nina Baym, Irving Howe, and Northrop Frye.

An erudite tour of the American literary landscape from one of its most important observers.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59853-640-9

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Library of America

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more