A biography that rounds out a writer whose life has been distorted by the mythic proportions of his experiences.



A discerning psychological reading of a highly fraught writer's life.

Meyers (Gary Cooper, 1998, etc.) sifts through Orwell's celebrated adventures, finding strands of anxiety that influenced his great works. To begin with, Orwell's father was no authority figure: a mid-level civil servant in British India, he made little money overseeing the cultivation of opium and was absent for most of his son's childhood. In grammar school and at Eton, Orwell suffered from his status as a scholarship boy, succeeding academically but socially never fitting in. Despite his antipathy toward his father and the culture of his public school, however, Orwell went on to join the Burmese Imperial Police—a sign of the grip his background had on him. Meyers argues that this conflict recurred throughout Orwell's life. He was regularly caught between a sense of duty and his own unique, and often critical, perspective of the institutions that influenced him. Meyers links this analysis with allusions to fiction and essays (like "Shooting an Elephant") to show how art took its cue from life. Tramping around France and England—dropping out of life, pitching the dilemma entirely—helped resolve this conflict enough for him to work as a schoolmaster and write his first book. Leaving everything behind and taking the big risk (i.e., fighting in the Spanish Civil War) inaugurated the blossoming of his career, however. He overcame his feelings of inadequacy and began actively developing his political theories, asserting that totalitarianism on both the Left and Right were jeopardizing democracy and individualism. The gentler side of Orwell comes out in Meyers’s discussion of his family life. His rather mundane (yet sweet) courting of Eileen O'Shaughnessy, the strain WWII placed on the marriage, and their adoption of a son placed Orwell in a rare role. He seemed wide-eyed and open, a far cry from his usual self-tormented or icily perceptive self.

A biography that rounds out a writer whose life has been distorted by the mythic proportions of his experiences.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-393-04792-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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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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