A disciplined, unsentimental last testament from an old pro, full of distilled adventures and the reflective richness that...

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TRIESTE AND THE MEANING OF NOWHERE

Popular historian Morris (Lincoln, 2000, etc.), the subtlest of travel writers since the 1950s, turns in what she has announced is her final book: a meditation on the crossroads city of Trieste.

Trieste is an Italian city bordering Croatia and Slovenia, on a finger of land on the northern shores of the Adriatic Sea. Once, it rivaled Hong Kong as a great commercial port, a crucial outpost of the Hapsburg Empire where Italians, Slavs, and Austrians met to do business. Trieste’s cosmopolitan character kept it from being dominated by any one religion. The city is pleasant visually, but was too commercial ever to become a center for art or architecture. Morris argues, in essence, that Trieste is a good place but not a great one: the food is excellent but not ethnically distinct, and the people themselves are gravely courteous, but undistinguished. Trieste is almost nationless, thus its appeal to exiles like Morris, who has traveled the world in search of an identity. It is always necessary to say of Morris that she used to be, before her sex change in 1972, the distinguished British author, James Morris, father of four. He did not cease to be a father when he became a woman, but with all the noise about sexual identity in the late 20th century it is gratifying to hear a mature, no longer embattled voice coming to terms. Life has been good to Morris, but inescapably melancholy, like the city she identifies with. Trieste is dreamlike, Kafkaesque, and maybe it is nowhere. Even so, Morris does not slight its history: the aforementioned Hapsburgs; conquering armies, whether British or German; and most remarkably, the sojourn of Trieste’s quintessential exile, James Joyce. Joyce produced most of his work in Trieste, and Morris delights in tracing his impoverished, not altogether admirable, history.

A disciplined, unsentimental last testament from an old pro, full of distilled adventures and the reflective richness that distinguishes the melancholy from the merely sad.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-0128-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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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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