A heartfelt journal spans the year following a partner’s death from ovarian cancer.
Alden (When I First Knew, 2016, etc.) wrote this in memory of her partner—photographer and graphic designer Catherine J. Hopkins (1940-1996), with whom she lived in Catskill, New York. At that time, the legitimacy of their same-sex relationship wasn’t widely acknowledged. The local courthouse and church both refused to marry the women, but their pastor performed a wedding ceremony at their home in 1991, and Alden considered Catherine her wife. However, she would later feel shunned at a bereavement support group, and her parents, who never approved of her relationships with women, announced that they wanted nothing further to do with her. Month by month, these diary entries from 1996—addressed as letters to the late Catherine—illuminate the first year of sometimes-desperate grief. The author recounts her struggle to accept her identity as a widow: “I don’t know this person who can’t find meaning or pleasure in anything.” Flipping through photo albums unearthed memories of parties and vacations, but early on, it was the painful scenes that tended to linger: cleaning Catherine’s stomach tube, the final moments before her death, and the rituals of washing her body and informing relatives. Looking back, though, Alden could see that, however ironically, “those difficult days were the most intimate.” The journal artfully sets the enormity of loss in the context of everyday activities. Life goes on with a broken toilet to be fixed, a wedding to attend, and an ex-lover’s body to identify. Short, poetic notes on the weather close most of the entries, providing a sense of inevitable forward motion. Catherine’s black-and-white photographs also illustrate the seasons’ passage. By September, the narrative sees the author moving on—selling their house, moving to start a new teaching role, and facing breast cancer unfazed. She resolves to “remember the past with gratitude” and “neither to flee the darkness nor fly toward the light,” instead taking a cleareyed view of life’s mixed fortunes.
Tender, realistic snapshots of life during bereavement.
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").
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)