An amusing homage to reading that contains something to offend even (especially?) the most ardent book lover.


A journalist shares his obsession with books, swinging his machete through the fields of literature.

A national columnist and prolific writer, Queenan (Closing Time: A Memoir, 2009) is crazy about books—literally. Even other bibliophiles will likely consider his reading habits to be on the lunatic fringe: “I cannot remember a single time when I was reading fewer than fifteen books…I am talking about books I am actively reading, books that are right there on my nightstand and are not leaving until I’m done with them. Right now, the number is thirty-two.” The author admits that this is “madness.” Such obsession makes him a promiscuous reader, but also a faithful one, devouring everything he can find from an author he discovers, no matter how obscure or prolific. Since he’s sometimes classified as a humorist, and since much of his humor lies in his outrageous assertions, it’s hard to tell how seriously to take his dismissal of Middlemarch, Ulysses and all of Thomas Hardy, though plainly he takes books and reading very seriously indeed. Yet he doesn’t much care for independent bookstores (“often staffed by condescending prigs who do not approve of people like me. The only writers they like are dead or exotic or Paul Auster”), or book critics (“mostly servile muttonheads, lacking the nerve to call out famous authors for their daft plots and slovenly prose), or book clubs (“I would rather have my eyelids gnawed on by famished gerbils than join a book club”). Queenan also resists the temptation of most book lovers to buy a lot of books, since he figures he won’t live long enough to read (or re-read) the ones he’s vowed to finish before he dies. Most will agree that “reading is intensely personal,” and the author splatters his personality over every page.

An amusing homage to reading that contains something to offend even (especially?) the most ardent book lover.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02582-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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