DAMON RUNYON

A LIFE

The life of the mythic, wealthy journalist/short-story writer of the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls, told by the legendary, wealthy journalist/novel writer of Table Money, World Without End, Amen, etc. Making some allowances, this book is like Hemingway on Shakespeare. At first Breslin's bragging—making the reader brilliantly aware that the Breslin Mouth is equal to its subject— is off-putting. But as his Runyon anecdotes gather force, we slowly grasp that Breslin's self-esteem is tested to the breaking point by this portrait of a figure even more legendary and cynically witty in his day than Breslin himself. The Runyon/Breslin team on the page is, with its fruity richness of newsroom lore, simply overwhelming, better than Runyon's buddy Gene Fowler on John Barrymore in Good Night, Sweet Prince, with Breslin tailoring Runyon's every word and move to cut the most—well, Shakespearean- -figure possible. This Runyon with all his invented dialogue must be a fiction—but so what when the page is drugged with such high humor? Runyon at eight cut his teeth as his father's printer's devil in the western states, at 15 was on his own as a wandering reporter. He was a shy, quiet poet with a withering view of mankind—and also a man of warm fellowship with murderers, gamblers, and criminals who fed him the life in his copy and later became his fictional characters. Breslin excels at creating the mirror-reversed moral world of criminals, with the reader, like Alice, on a Broadway of monsters ruled by Runyon, their re-creator in print—people who later become Runyonesques by choice. Companion to Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, and Walter Winchell, and William Randolph Hearst's highest-paid sportswriter and war-reporter, Runyon never bit the hand that fed him—which included many, many hands, only some of them legitimate. Breslin's best—and more impressive in its sustained cynicism than Runyon's own writing. Could live forever.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 1991

ISBN: 0-89919-984-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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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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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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