Rucker-Smith recounts the ups and downs of her own journey of the spirit in this debut memoir.
The author, a high school English teacher and a single mother of three, felt intense grief after the death of her father in 2001. But after a chance viewing of the author Gary Zukav, discussing his 1989 book The Seat of the Soul on The Oprah Winfrey Show, she began a pilgrimage to find her own spiritual fulfillment. This quest ended up lasting 10 years, and it was filled with numerous turnarounds and “dead ends,” each of which, she says, was necessary for her to finally arrive at her destination. In this book, she records her journey of self-discovery in the form of self-described “rantings”: “the literary banging of my head against many dead ends.” In these, she discusses her decisions to leave teaching, which she felt was slowly killing her, and to stop running 10 miles every Sunday and instead go on a 30-day cleanse to remove toxins and addictions from her body. She records the indignities and dark moments that she faced along the way, from crying (“inside”) during meditation to wondering whether she could “divorce [her] children.” Ultimately, though, she shows how she was able to get to a place where her mind, body, and spirit were finally in sync. Rucker-Smith’s prose is frank and playful throughout, expressing her emotional states with colorful metaphors and allusions. For example, here’s how she describes one of her pop-culture role models: “As long as I didn’t cause any problems, I was left alone. In fact, [Star Trek’s Mr.] Spock was my Vulcan homeboy because he was the coolest cat around. He was brilliant, logical, and unemotional.” Much of the author’s evolution takes place internally, without a tremendous amount of external travel or upheaval, and this makes some parts of the book seem monotonous, particularly during later sections. However, the author does an excellent job of illustrating her early concerns: “Was I becoming enlightened, or was I going insane?”
A candid but not always compelling memoir of spiritual growth.
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").
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)