Dare we suggest that Coetzee is actually a better critical essayist than a novelist? This trenchant, rewarding volume...



Issues of political and moral choice and commitment and of literary theory and practice are considered in the South African Nobel laureate’s fourth collection of criticism.

Gathered here are 16 book reviews, four summary “introductions” to new translations or editions of major writers’ works and a single celebration of a “classic” film (“Arthur Miller, The Misfits”), which appeared in the anthology Writers at the Movies. Coetzee’s great strength is his sure sense of form—notably displayed in a meticulous deconstruction of Philip Roth’s “dystopian” alternate-history novel The Plot Against America and a stringent explication of enfolded levels of irony and self-deception in Coetzee’s countrywoman Nadine Gordimer’s subtle political novel The Pickup. He also does his homework, assiduously. A wealth of painstakingly absorbed historical and biographical information enriches his dissections of scholar-critic Walter Benjamin’s “the Arcades Project” (an encyclopedic analysis of Parisian social life “under capitalism”); Günter Grass’s challenging historical novel Crabwalk (based on a maritime disaster which has spawned numerous conflicting treatments of its details and significance); and the recently rediscovered fiction of 20th-century Hungarian author Sándor Márai, both a bold critic of fascism and a haughty apologist for an embattled aristocracy. Elsewhere, Coetzee pays due (if predictable) tribute to consensus European masters (Robert Musil, Paul Celan, Italo Svevo) and their less celebrated peers (Bruno Schulz, Joseph Roth, Hugo Claus), fellow Nobelists (Faulkner, Bellow, Naipaul), the underrated (Swiss miniaturist Robert Walser) and the unclassifiable (eclectic memoirist W.G. Sebald). Even middling essays on Whitman, Beckett and Graham Greene are redeemed by startlingly precise insights (e.g., that Greene’s “entertainment” Brighton Rock is energized by distinctions drawn between Good and Evil and Right and Wrong).

Dare we suggest that Coetzee is actually a better critical essayist than a novelist? This trenchant, rewarding volume suggests it just may be so.

Pub Date: July 23, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-670-03865-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?