A whimsical and surprisingly winning study of the cats indigenous to the Lamu Archipelago, a series of small islands off the coast of Kenya. Couffer (Bat Bomb: World War II’s Secret Weapon, etc.) argues that, due to their likely long isolation on the islands, these distinctivc-looking cats may be the closest living representatives of the wild breed that the Egyptians first domesticated some 4,000 years ago. That isn’t established here with any certainty, though it is true that the flocks of cats that haunt the beaches of the islands, waiting for the local fishing fleets to return, and that inhabit the islands mangrove swamps, do share with the cats represented in ancient Egypt a distinctive blend of long legs, a slim body, a long neck and a small head. Couffer, to the bafflement of Lamu’s Muslim population, spent his days closely following the extended groups of cats (he calls them “prides”) around, and he describes their intelligence and self-sufficiency with vigor and affection. His photographs capture with clarity and a sharp eye both the lives of these multicolored felines and the traditional rhythms and details of Lamu’s human inhabitants. (100 color and b&w photos)
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").
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)