Taken together, these pieces attest to a true life, a life well-lived and well-written.



Previously published but not collected until now, these magazine pieces reflect the author’s wide range of experience and interests as well as his prose mastery.

Salter (1925-2015) was best known for his fiction (All That Is, 2013, etc.), but these essays not only reflect a prolific career in literary journalism, but also show how much magazines have changed in the last half-century or so. There’s an insightful interview with Nabokov, one that extends well beyond Lolita and which had to be written from memory because the subject, already reluctant, wouldn’t allow notes. It ends on this autumnal note: “The light is fading, there is no one else in the room or the room beyond. The hotel has many mirrors, some of them on doors, so it is like a house of illusion, part vision, part reflection, and rich with dreams.” What a surprise to learn that this was a 1975 assignment for People, which no longer would be expected to publish such a writer on such an author. These aren’t selections from literary journals but rather from travel and food magazines and other general-interest publications. A West Point graduate and Korean War fighter pilot, Salter chronicles the changes in that institution and his near-death experiences. He also writes of his decision to leave the military and devote himself full time to his writing, hoping that he could somehow support his wife and family. “It was the most difficult act of my life,” he writes. But it paid off, not only in literary acclaim, but in sidelights such as writing for the screen and the theater (the subject of “Passionate Falsehoods,” a deliciously acerbic 1997 New Yorker piece about observing from the periphery of the film world) and making documentaries. “There is something called the true life,” writes Salter, “which I cannot describe and which perhaps varies as one sees it from different angles and at different times.”

Taken together, these pieces attest to a true life, a life well-lived and well-written.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-936-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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