SUBWAY LIVES

24 HOURS IN THE LIFE OF THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY

A New York Newsday columnist with a novelist's eye and fine sense of pacing explores the world of the N.Y.C. subway—in a timely account that is not only about the city's transit system but also about its people and its soul. Dwyer spent four years reporting on the subway system for New York Newsday, and his dogged hands-on experience shows. Here, he follows a handful of typical New Yorkers—including a train conductor, a pregnant mother, a token clerk, graffiti artists, and Transit Authority president David Gunn—through one composite day on the subway. But their lives form only the loosest of frameworks; between snippet descriptions of their day, Dwyer dexterously weaves in fascinating accounts of the subway's (and the city's) history and mythology. He writes of turnstile sucking and token-booth robberies, of botched city-government transactions and a birth on a train, of entrapment in a darkened tunnel and relentless graffiti wars between a Hispanic ``graffiti posse'' and a rich white kid from the Upper West Side. His descriptions bring the teeming, untamed transit system into sharp, palpable focus (``Everything about the cars is colossal...800,000 pounds of metal and plastic and another quarter million of flesh and blood, the greatest moving mass of human tissue in the universe, apart from the planet earth'') and offer heaps of startling details: today's subways carry only half the number of riders they did after WW II; 90 tons of garbage are pulled from the subways daily. Underneath it all, too, is a strong, stirring sense of the pride and frustration, hope and despair that go along with being a New Yorker. A first-rate study that reaches far beyond its ostensible subject to give a textured, gritty profile of New York past and present.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-517-58445-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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