CRUX

THE LETTERS OF JAMES DICKEY

Indefatigable literary estate agent Bruccoli (English/Univ. South Carolina, editor of the letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, John O’Hara, and Vladimir Nabokov) amasses the documentary chronicle of Dickey’s metamorphosis from “scarcely educated jock” to award-winning poet. Despite the wide range of addressees, including Robert Bly, Philip Booth, Donald Hall, Richard Howard, Randall Jarrell, Denise Levertov, and Robert Penn Warren, Dickey is on truly intimate terms—whether aesthetic or personal—with very few. Concerning his art, his most revealing personal statements typically occur in early correspondence with fellow-poet James Wright in the late fifties and the sixties: how Dickey is out to make “a poetry that gives us life: . . . the live imagination as it leaps instinctively toward its inevitable (and perhaps God-ordained) forms”; why he writes about a few significant personal experiences (usually concerning his family) “in order to understand these times and states, and to perpetuate them.” Elsewhere, he relates to Wright vivid descriptions of a brawling debate with Jarrell and a winter deer hunt with friends and his son Christopher, during which Dickey improvised ballads. Unfortunately, in his later (post-Deliverance) letters, his grand-old-man status affords him too many opportunities for self-regarding pronouncements, such as judging fellow Southern writers and young poets. The quotidian aspects of a poetic career—and Bruccoli bluntly describes Dickey as a careerist—are well-documented, from Dickey’s popular speaking engagements and academic postings, through mundane dealings with magazines and publishers, to putting down rivals and sucking up to critics. (In one of the more amusing two-faced incidents, Dickey calls John Hollander “a literary pimp and time-server” but later sympathizes with Hollander about “nit-pickers who balk at your poems.—) For the appetite for life that drives Dickey’s poetry, his letters to his son Christopher, though comparatively few here, are best. In disagreement with Auden, Dickey writes, “Poetry makes plenty happen; it can change your life,” as this passionate and ornery epistolary collection proves.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40419-8

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more