Sometimes rambling but always loving, a sentimental look at a mother's life.



In this debut memoir, a Russian immigrant to America cobbles together family stories and her reflections on child-rearing.

When she was 23, Trepelkov and her husband, Alex, flew from Russia to New York to begin an exciting new life. It was the early 1980s, and Alex would soon become immersed in his job at the United Nations. She was offered a position at the U.N. Library. The daughter of a Soviet diplomat, she had been an outstanding student with much promise in the professional world. But when she discovered she was pregnant, she turned down the U.N. job offer and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Now a grandmother, the author was inspired to share these tender family tales and parenting ideas after reading Amy Chua’s popular book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in which Chua claims to have raised her American daughters the way a Chinese mother would. Though Trepelkov doesn’t profess to have raised her daughters the “Russian way,” she can relate to being a mom with a different cultural background in America. Her mothering style is more laid-back than Chua’s. For example, she exposed her girls to arts and sports without demanding they be the best. The most compelling parts of her account vividly describe her struggles to fit in. In the Soviet Union, her family was part of the elite—and socializing with foreigners was discouraged—so in America, organizing a daughter’s birthday party proved difficult. Trepelkov’s prose is smooth, but sometimes the narrative flow is slowed down by mundane memories, like the time an administrator called her father to discuss her placement in seventh-grade language classes. Jumping from thought to thought, the style is diarylike—one anecdote about ice skating is interrupted by a vignette about her daughter’s wish to become a ballerina. But the author also includes many of her Russian family stories, which are memorably sweet. For example, like O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi,” her grandfather sold his prized silver cigarette case to buy his wife a pair of shoes. 

Sometimes rambling but always loving, a sentimental look at a mother's life.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68433-084-3

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2018

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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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