Deeply intelligent, provocative, and enjoyable literary investigations.



A striking collection of 26 literary essays, many taken from The New York Review of Books, that amply display Coetzee’s freethinking erudition and go-your-own-way intellectual honesty.

In prose that is smooth as milk over the bottle’s lip, Coetzee (Disgrace, 2000, etc.) unleashes his take on a battery of writers ranging from Samuel Richardson and Daniel Dafoe to William Gass and Daphne Rooke. He chides Salman Rushdie for not knowing what he’s talking about (“with all respect due to the author, one must demure”), even when what he’s talking about is The Moor’s Last Sigh. He covers Joseph Brodsky’s critical poetics in a voice that is as vibrant as the Russian’s own, and he wittily observes that A.S. Byatt’s characters “in times of crisis . . . do not go into therapy.” There are quick, lambent biographies of Breyten Breytenbach, Noel Mostert, Alan Paton, and Helen Suzman, as well as one of Thomas Pringle, father of English-language poetry in South Africa (whom Coetzee garrotes, labeling his work “indifferent”). He cuts Cees Nooteboom for his lack of anguish over the expulsion of heartfelt imagination from the world, but he applauds fellow Dutchman Harry Mulisch’s sure handling of the “terrible fissure in European history opened by the Holocaust.” He lauds Amos Oz for that same sure hand, accompanied by a light touch, in his politically-charged novels set in the fluid margins of Israel. Coetzee allows his emotional sentiments to percolate through these critiques and tries to measure the same in his subjects, as in an essay on Nadine Gordimer reconnoitering the realm of the artist’s special calling, that “art tells a truth transcending the truth of history,” wherein the goal of writing can strive for the transformation of society.

Deeply intelligent, provocative, and enjoyable literary investigations.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-89982-8

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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?