In a perceptive and sympathetic account based on extensive research in archives and public records, Williamson (Humanities/Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; The Crucible of Race, 1984, etc.) offers some revelations about Faulkner's ancestry and background, along with a comprehensive commentary on the novelist's life and works. Ashamed of his background, Faulkner, Williamson tells us, spent as much energy reinventing himself as he did creating his fiction. Rather than his descending, as he claimed, from Scottish Highlanders or an aristocratic slave-owning southern family, Faulkner's paternal grandfather, ``the Colonel,'' was an eccentric businessman, while his maternal grandfather was a sheriff who shot the editor of the local paper, embezzled public funds, and ran off with a mulatto girl. Faulkner's fictions about his own life were similarly less colorful than reality. He represented himself as, variously, an RAF pilot wounded in WW I, a bootlegger, a gentleman farmer, and, in his final invention, as a gentleman equestrian who rode the Virginia hunts. In fact, Faulkner never flew and his farm was a failure. He began writing while tending a boiler all night, married a divorcÇe, and ended up raising and supporting her children and family as well as his own. His real-life travels, seductions, and alcoholic bouts—especially with Howard Hawks, Clark Gable, and Humphrey Bogart while adapting Hemingway's To Have and Have Not—are more interesting than his invented role as simple southern farmer, and than the other roles he assumed, such as literary ambassador (after his 1950 Nobel) and academic. Similarly, Williamson's Platonic schematization of Faulkner's work is less interesting than the intense experience and vitality of the fiction, which may or may not have had roots in Faulkner's life, culture, and beliefs. The biographical material here and the social history involving racial issues, sex, and class are especially significant- -but there's not much on the southern history of the title.
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)