Staggering work. It is not only the tour de force of literary criticism, but also a most profound, protean breakthrough into the nature of reality and appearance, of freedom and determinism, of good and evil. It is also a tapestry of tensions in the form of a tribute to novelist-playwright Jean Genet. a guilty age, says Sartre, Genet holds up the mirror; we must look at it and see ourselves. Crushed at first by a double-dealing bourgeois background (a bastard, then a foster child, then a reform school thug) Genet turns himself "inside out ike a glove"; little by little he digests "destiny", spews forth the pieces; public self-acceptance is denied him but private self-transcendence is not. An "actor" and "martyr", he plays the roles of criminal-homosexual. Sentenced to prison for , he metamorphoses memory into myth, writes his autobiographical fantasias, continuing to live and relive a liturgical instant of childhood: a child dies of shame, a hoodlum rises in his place, the hoodlum will be haunted by the child. enet stakes his life on a single card in a game of "loser wins"; he "invents" a ort of satanic theology, a psychological inversion so complete, an immoral commitment so thorough, that Genet the scapegoat of society becomes Genet the saint of the imagination. As a real-life existential hero, as a "condemned" man, he hooses the consequences of rock-bottom consciousness... This is an amazing analysis of alienation which, incidentally, throws out both Marx and Freud; a superb study of artistic creation as both subject and object. It will irritate; more, it will influence- indeed- it already has. For, published 10 years ago in France, what are the hipster ethics of Norman Mailer or the Negro revolt as preached by James Saldwin but imitations? In any case, in any way you look at it, a real work of real importance.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0434671584

Page Count: 652

Publisher: Braziller

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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