Deliciously gossipy, sometimes catty, yet never mean-spirited: a delightful snapshot of bohemian New York in the mid-20th...

DIGRESSIONS ON SOME POEMS BY FRANK O’HARA

Engaging memoir, completed just before the author’s death in 2001, of his ten years with poet O’Hara.

They met in 1951 and began living together in 1955 in one of those committed-but-not-quite relationships that were common among gay men at the time: “Frank would be made to feel he was more important to me than anyone in my life . . . while I would continue to have my sexual freedom.” LeSueur was a native Californian, survivor of stints as a soldier, an elementary-school teacher, and a “kept boy” who found with O’Hara (1926–66), slightly older and far more sophisticated, with his day job at the Museum of Modern Art and his Abstract Expressionist buddies, the glamorous New York life he had always dreamed of. Together they drank hard, saw a lot of movies, attended classical concerts and the ballet, and hung out with an amazing roster of the city’s brightest talents. John Ashbery, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Edwin Denby, Robert Motherwell, Ned Rorem, Kenneth Koch, Fairfield Porter, and Tennessee Williams are just a sampling of the famous names lightly dropped in LeSueur’s appealing text, which takes what little organization it has from the O’Hara poems that head each chapter. (Not the least of the pleasures here is the opportunity to rediscover the witty, vigorously colloquial verse of one of the urban experiences’s most enticing bards.) Sometimes LeSueur recalls how or where a poem was written—generally with extreme nonchalance in the midst of the hubbub O’Hara loved—sometimes it prompts more loosely connected reminiscences of a period in their lives or a friendship. The very casual structure occasionally sags dangerously, but it’s always rescued by the charm of LeSueur’s voice, which also brilliantly recaptures a bygone age in homosexual culture when gay men could be out of the closet, even swishy and campy, but only among their bohemian intimates, gay or straight.

Deliciously gossipy, sometimes catty, yet never mean-spirited: a delightful snapshot of bohemian New York in the mid-20th century.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-13980-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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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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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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