Thought-provoking essays that offer more than mere opinion, as the author plumbs the writers’ philosophical and...



Nobel and Booker Prize winner Coetzee (The Schooldays of Jesus, 2017, etc.) offers another collection of reflective and erudite essays on a variety of poets and novelists.

Originally published as introductions to foreign translations or in the New York Review of Books, some of the author’s favorites recur: Daniel Defoe, Robert Walser, Zbigniew Herbert, Philip Roth, and Samuel Beckett, the “philosophical satirist,” whom Coetzee covers in four of the essays. While discussing Beckett’s letters and two novels—Watt, a “fable cum treatise that for long stretches manages to be hypnotically fascinating,” and Molloy, a “mysterious work, inviting interpretation and resisting it at the same time”—the author focuses on Beckett’s language, a “self-enclosed system, a labyrinth without issue, in which human beings are trapped.” An acclaimed translator himself, Coetzee is particularly interested in the translations of some authors’ works. He laments that any translation of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther that would be “true” for readers of the 1770s as well as for today’s is “an unattainable ideal.” He quibbles that Michael Hamburger’s translations of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poetry are “only intermittently…touched with divine fire.” But the “achievement is nevertheless considerable.” The essay on Patrick White, the “greatest writer Australia has produced,” confronts the dilemma faced by literary executors. Coetzee praises White’s agent Barbara Mobbs as well as Kafka’s friend Max Brod for refusing to carry out their authors’ wishes to have their writings destroyed. As Coetzee writes, “the world is a richer place now that we have [White’s] The Hanging Garden.” As a longtime advocate for animal rights, his short piece on Juan Ramón Jiménez’s tale of a donkey, Platero and I, is especially poignant. Other subjects of Coetzee’s probing eye include Flaubert, Tolstoy, Hawthorne, Heinrich Von Kleist, Antonio Di Benedetto, Les Murray, Gerald Murnane, Irène Némirovsky, Ford Madox Ford, and Hendrik Witbooi.

Thought-provoking essays that offer more than mere opinion, as the author plumbs the writers’ philosophical and psychological depths.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2391-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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

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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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