A smart memoir, wrapped inside an overly didactic advice book.

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To Jonah, When You Are Twenty-Five

TAKING JOBS SERIOUSLY

Herbert's (Creating the AHRC, 2008) latest book—half epistolary memoir, half advice guide— tells young adults why they should be serious about their work.

“I had often professed that a liberal education was good preparation for life,” the author writes in the book’s opening letter. “My worklife ended up testing that traditional guidance.” He then puts his education to good use, penning a total of 25 letters to “Jonah,” a stand-in for all young people who are gearing up to enter the adult workplace. The letters touch on issues of philosophy, history and psychology, while also recounting anecdotes about Herbert’s life as a working stiff and his struggle to make a difference in an indifferent world. The autobiographical fragments manage to be both sobering in their depiction of cold bureaucratic work and inspirational in their optimism in the face of adversity. Herbert notes that he takes his inspiration from Swiss film director Alain Tanner’s 1976 classic, Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, about youth in the aftermath of the social upheavals of the late ’60s.  He quotes a line from the film: “In twenty-five years the century will spit him out….That’s the time left for us to help him get off the shit-pile.” The author takes the same admirable stance—that older generations have an obligation to make the world better for younger ones. However, the book does become repetitive, reminding readers again and again about how harsh and heedless the adult world can be. This isn’t particularly surprising or insightful advice, especially considering that the world of the young can also be harsh and heedless, and some readers may feel it to be condescending. Overall, the book might have benefited from a less heavy-handed approach. But when the gloom and doom are wiped away, one finds a remarkably beautiful book underneath. Perhaps if Herbert had concentrated his efforts into a narrative form, he could have achieved his noble goals more effectively.

A smart memoir, wrapped inside an overly didactic advice book.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615948560

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Agora Associates of Metropolitan Washington

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2014

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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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