Hikers may find it useful. Medieval scholars will scowl.



Where 14th-century English pilgrims once trod, an Alabama outdoorsman finds hotels, convenience stores, and plenty of other things that remind him—remarkably—of Chaucer.

Ellis has a knack for retracing famous journeys. He’s followed the Trail of Tears (Walking the Trail, 1991), ridden the path of the Pony Express (Bareback!, 1993), and shadowed Sherman to the sea (Marching Through Georgia, 1995). His most recent trek appeals to a sense of spirituality, a topic he tackles by linking the modern British landscape to the lives of the pilgrims who once walked to Becket’s shrine. The author’s trip, like the pilgrims’, takes seven days, each organized around a figure from The Canterbury Tales. Like Chaucer, Ellis comes across shopkeepers, gardeners, and religious folk. Some of them resemble characters in the Tales, but others do not, and readers may well feel the connections are weak. One can sympathize with Ellis when he describes the liberation he feels while traveling and how that freedom may translate into spiritual experience, but his asides relating his own hat to that of a pilgrim in the Middle Ages strain credulity, scallop shell or not. (Pilgrims, writes Ellis, wore scallops to display their piousness.) Moreover, it seems a strange oversight that a writer who constantly references his love of the wilderness and his Cherokee ancestry has very little negative to say about the fact that the forests and wolves that were the mainstay of a Chaucerian pilgrimage are now gone, replaced by pavement, towns, and tamed woods. Instead of using the past as a reference point from which to judge the present, Ellis spends a lot of time talking about how oddly and quaintly pilgrims lived. He doesn’t dwell on what’s been lost, even when he reaches his destination and finds a tourist trap.

Hikers may find it useful. Medieval scholars will scowl.

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-44706-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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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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