WORMHOLES

ESSAYS AND OCCASIONAL WRITINGS

The celebrated English novelist gathers his essays of four decades in one volume. Best known for his novels, which include classic works such as The Magus and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Fowles now offers a collection of essays and “occasional pieces” written between 1963 and 1997. The book comprises 30 disparate pieces, divided into four categories: “Autobiographical,” “Culture and Society,” “Literature and Literary Criticism,” and “Nature and the Nature of Nature.” Fowles enthusiasts will be grateful for the book. The master’s ruminations will deepen their understanding of his fictional world, perhaps especially the section on nature. However, those not already in thrall to Fowles’s imagination are not likely to be persuaded or even attracted by this omnium-gatherum of odds and ends. Curiously, Fowles seems uneasy as an essayist. It is, for example, a leitmotif of this volume for him to declare that he does not care what “the academics” think. He claims this so often that it becomes clear that “the academics”—whoever they may be—bother him a great deal and that he in fact does care what they think. This unnecessary combat with phantoms makes him appear defensive and unsure of himself. Consequently it undermines his reader’s confidence in the surefootedness of his critical stance. He is at his best when completely unapologetic, as in comments of this sort: “Above all I loathe the drift (a kind of fascism of the majority) that would so homogenize, suburbanize, and ‘democratize’ life as to make it lose all it varieties and roughnesses—make it, like margarine, ‘easy to spread.— “ Take that to Starbucks and sip it. In the end, though shot through with veins of gold, this collection also contains its share of slag and dross.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8050-5867-2

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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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