A somber but beautiful collection of letters that teach profound lessons in a delicate way.




A stirring collection of letters written by a grieving father to his late son, who died of a drug overdose.

Debut author Dison’s son James died in 2005 at the age of 34 after struggling with substance abuse for most of his adult life. After sharing the details of that tragic day, the author steps back in time to James’ childhood, reflecting on the tender moments that they shared as he raised him as a single parent. Then came the “stormy times” of James’ adolescence: “As you drifted further in to the drug culture, I drifted into despair and helplessness. You and I drifted further and further apart.” In James’ adulthood, a combination of drug addiction and mental illness gripped him time and time again. Despite this, Dison writes, his son always “kept looking for and finding ways…to climb out of that deep hole” by repeatedly seeking treatment until he could do so no longer. Throughout the author’s reflections, there’s a persistent longing for connection with his son, both to reaffirm the affectionate ties they’d developed over a lifetime and also to make amends for past regrets. But Dison also carefully considers his audience, turning his highly personal reflections into a straightforward chronological and thematic storyline. His words subtly implore readers to cherish their own loved ones, and his statements of regret often serve as admonitions to those facing similar circumstances: “I wish so much that I had displayed more compassion for you, and less judgment based on my limited understanding.” Readers will be touched by the author’s authenticity, which often shines through: “I was challenged by you, proud of you, pleased by you, exasperated by you, thrilled by you, annoyed by you, energized by you, exhausted by you, and the list could go on and on.”

A somber but beautiful collection of letters that teach profound lessons in a delicate way.

Pub Date: April 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4787-8205-6

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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