THE FRIDAY BOOK

ESSAYS AND OTHER NONFICTION

Lectures, introductions, symposium contributions, and other miscellaneous pieces (written on Friday mornings)—most of which end up as arguments for Barth's "postmodernist" approach to fiction, with extensive references to his own work (especially the numbing LETTERS). "The novelist is not finally a spectator, an imitator, or a purger of the public psyche, but a maker of universes: a demiurge. At least a semidemiurge." Likewise, "Whatever else it is about, great literature is almost always also about itself." Thus, Barth applauds the celebration of virtuosity for its own sake and the device of stories-within-stories-within-stories (which he explores to comical excess); he's interested in mythic patterns, with Eastern and ancient narrative forms; he praises Borges, Garda Marquez, and late Calvino. And, in a central 1979 essay, "The Literature of Replenishment," he takes on professors Gerald Graft and Robert Alter, appraises "modernism," deplores the school-of-thought that "rushes back into the arms of nineteenth century middle-class realism," and comes up with "a worthy program" for postmodernist fiction: the "synthesis or transcension of these antitheses, which may be summed up as pre-modernist and modernist modes of writing." Unfortunately, though some of this theory sounds plausible and heartening, when Barth turns to specifics (usually in discussing his own work), postmodernism most often seems academic, mannered, show-offy, self-involved. And though the style in many of these essays (and especially in Barth's mini-introductions) is jazzy and genial, the sameness of the subject-matter throughout becomes enervating, with only sporadic relief from Barth's whimsical approach ("the important subject of dippy verses as a legitimate contaminant of novels") to serious esthetic issues. Primarily for those involved in the philosophy-of-fiction quarrels, then, along with passionate fans of Barth's novels and stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 1984

ISBN: 0801855578

Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1984

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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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