STORY STORY STORY

CONVERSATIONS WITH AMERICAN AUTHORS

Schumock’s interviews with writers on his Portland, Ore., radio program are generally entertaining if not enlightening. These transcriptions of one-hour talks from KBOO radio’s Between the Covers program suffer from a lack of framework. No dates are given for the interviews; the brief author bios are updated only to the time of the interview, not to this book’s publication. Thus, there are vague references to a “most recent” novel or “latest” collection, but no mention of a writer’s later works or accomplishments. And Schumock’s prefatory remark that “anyone who reads this book in its entirety will gain a much broader perspective on American literature in the second half of the 20th century” certainly overstates his case. The lack of time-frame doesn’t matter much in some of the interviews: William Styron’s focuses on literary influences and his determination that his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness, not be a “standard, autobiographical, young man’s novel.” Schumock discusses literary influences with several of the writers, most effectively with Thomas McGuane, who cites Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano as “essential reading for modern writers.” Paul Theroux’s interview, done near the release of My Other Life (1996), looks at autobiography, noting that the author is, in effect, a “character” similar to a fictional creation. Lorrie Moore, one of just three women collected here (the others are Carol Shields and Carolyn Kizer) sees writing as “the process of creating new worlds . . . a kind of scary and mad project.” In Tobias Wolff’s fascinating interview, the acclaimed short-story writer connects the “fragmented nature” of his transient youth with his reluctance to attempt a full-length novel. Almost all the interviews are concluded with the silly convention of asking, if you were stranded on a desert isle, what two books would you want? Surprisingly few had clever responses. Sufficient introductory and follow-up material might have provided a boost for this merely diverting collection. (10 pp. author photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-930773-51-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Black Heron

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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