Uncommonly graceful and wise.



Well-wrought, deeply thoughtful personal essays from a master of the form.

“Memory is a room always hitched to our travels,” writes Masters (English/Carnegie Mellon Univ.; Elegy for Sam Emerson, 2006, etc.). That room gets a thorough airing as the aging author looks back on a rich literary life, which has included an unbalanced literary friendship with William Humphrey and a warm one with Wright Morris, who in retirement supplies Masters with a remark that could serve as an inscription for this collection: “I am overwhelmed by the past.” This son of poet Edgar Lee Masters writes about his grandparents, parents, lovers, wives and children (he alludes to an estranged daughter)—“generations scrambling over each other”—to bring a kind of order to the discontinuity of his life. He memorably recounts his arrest on trumped-up disorderly-conduct charge as a teenager, all the while confessing in his mind guilt for an array of larger sins and offenses for which he’d heretofore gone unpunished. He recaptures the exhilaration of criss-crossing the country as a youth and his repeated, treasured visits to France. He recalls working as a 15-year-old civilian plane spotter during World War II. He honors the return of a long-lost, runaway dog, who, like the author, “[has] had adventures, but…remembered where he came from.” He fondly looks back on the gift of Robinson Crusoe that inspired his writing career. Whether he’s remarking on the mundane—a pear, a piece of pie, a hotel room—or his mother’s dementia (“a revision of history in progress”), Masters reliably delivers insights that make every page a delight. Hints of Thoreau, Twain, Hemingway and, above all, Montaigne, mark his approach, but the hard-earned voice that emerges is surely his own.

Uncommonly graceful and wise.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8032-2271-7

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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



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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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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