The word “Baghdad” in the title may prompt some readers to pull this from the shelves, but they will likely be disappointed.

FROM BAGHDAD TO BROOKLYN

GROWING UP IN A JEWISH-ARABIC FAMILY IN MIDCENTURY AMERICA

A predictable memoir about an immigrant son’s struggle to find himself.

Poet Marshall’s parents were Sephardic Jews—Dad from Baghdad, Mom from Aleppo—who immigrated to America and entered into an ill-advised marriage in New York. Marshall’s home life was different from those of other Jewish kids in Brooklyn: His parents, for instance, whether swearing or offering praise, denoted God not by the Hebrew “Ha-Shem” or “Eloheem,” but by the Arabic “Allah.” As he moved into adolescence, Marshall had an increasingly difficult time reconciling science and literature with traditional Jewish teaching. As a last ditch effort to shore up faith, he enrolled, on a generous scholarship, in the rabbinical program at Yeshiva University—but he didn’t last long. The siren song of the poets snagged him instead, and he took refuge in the main reading room of the main branch of the New York Public Library, reading “thirsty as a castaway at a free tap,” keeping company with the words of Hart Crane and Dylan Thomas. The end of this memoir finds Marshall setting sail, figuratively and literally: Broke but determined to see the world, he found work on the SS Ferngrove and . . . off he went. The text is littered with too-cute lines (e.g., “any Orthodox rabbi worth his kosher Crystal salt”). Marshall has a unique heritage, but not enough of this story feels original or fresh.

The word “Baghdad” in the title may prompt some readers to pull this from the shelves, but they will likely be disappointed.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-56689-174-4

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Coffee House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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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

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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

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