Intelligent, savvy, and stylish literary journalism.



A master of the craft offers up sprightly and fervent essays.

Malcolm’s latest collection is a follow-up to Forty-One False Starts (2013), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. These 18 pieces, most previously published in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books over the past 10 years, explore a pleasingly wide range of subjects. The first section consists of profiles. In the admiring titular piece, the author examines fashion designer Eileen Fisher, whose clothes “look as if they were heedlessly flung on rather than anxiously selected.” Malcolm herself became part of Fisher’s “kind of cult of the interestingly plain.” A photo of the pianist Yuja Wang, an “existential prodigy,” graces the cover of the book and is the subject of “Performance Artist.” Malcolm seems as much impressed with the “characteristically outré,” extremely short and tight dresses Wang wears when performing, accompanied by a pair of “sadistic high heels,” as she is with Wang’s musical brilliance. Things quiet down in “Three Sisters,” about New York City’s Argosy Bookshop and the accomplished women who run it. Then there’s the “current sweetheart of liberal cable TV,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow; the author calls Maddow’s show “TV entertainment at its finest.” The second section has cultural takes, most with a political edge. Malcolm is struck by the “atmosphere of a cold war propaganda film” in the cable TV docuseries Sarah Palin’s Alaska. The author’s incisive article sorting out the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings’ hijinks is especially timely and scathing, while “Pandora’s Click” examines “email’s evil,” more “like a dangerous power tool” than “harmless kitchen appliance.” The last section covers literature and book reviews: Tolstoy, Constance Garnett’s translations (which Malcolm loves), the Bloomsbury Group, Ted Hughes, and a resuscitating assessment of Norman Podhoretz’s memoir Making It. Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels are a “literary confection of…gossamer deliciousness.”

Intelligent, savvy, and stylish literary journalism.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-27949-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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