An irascible veteran U.S. News & World Report photographer revisits the mountains and molehills, the dimples and depressions and canyons of his peripatetic life.
Lo Scalzo opens with a self-righteous blast at writers of creative nonfiction and memoir, implying that all are cut from the James Frey cloth. He then proceeds to employ many of the techniques others have pioneered and perfected: compression, flashbacks, “remembered” dialogue from decades ago—but all in increasingly effective fashion. The narrative commences with a breathtaking image of his wife Deirdre asleep in a car in Texas, then progresses to early 2003 and his preparation to cover the imminent “stupid war” in Iraq. But a call from Deirdre brought heartbreaking news: a second miscarriage. He left for the war anyway. Then a leap backward to his 11th birthday and his first camera, a Polaroid. Here and elsewhere, the author fails to sufficiently educate his readers. We learn little about his art or about the art of photography in general. He was late in switching to digital from film in 2001, and he offers some cursory, unremarkable comments about the differences between the two. He endured a rough adolescence, a “profound indifference” to schoolwork and a self-serving moral code. He landed an internship, then a job with U. S. News, making the most of his opportunity (despite a contentious relationship with a new photo editor later on). As the author matures, the narrative accelerates. He traveled the world, shot some compelling, often dangerous photographs (ranging from porn production to global warming to warfare) and gradually realized that his wife and newborn child were as important—no, more important—than his career. Not an unexpected epiphany but an affecting one.
The weight of self-regard retards but does not prevent a lovely lift off and stirring journey.
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)