Quirky, crotchety and unconvincing.



A former Time Out writer harks back to the days of handwritten letters.

O'Connell covers the book world for a number of British newspapers. Now 40, he describes himself as having been an inveterate letter writer before the days of email. Like everyone else, he admits, he was seduced by the speed and ease of email communications, but now he is rethinking the question. For him, texting and Twitter were steps too far. “[P]eople have to understand,” he writes, “we've been sold this idea of progress and it's…wrong. Just because you develop a new thing, it doesn’t mean earlier versions of that thing have to become obsolete.” The physicality embodied in a handwritten letter carries meaning, especially after the passage of time. O’Connell writes that a handwritten condolence letter he received after the death of his mother set him on this track. He also believes that a collection of letters trumps biography: Letters “encapsulate [a life] more effectively.” The author is at pains to make clear that typewritten letters are just as bad as email. Another of his bugaboos is the round-robin missive that shares family news, whatever its medium of communication. “It’s one of the tragedies of the modern world,” he writes, “the way the round-robin has survived, like some demonic post-apocalyptic cockroach.” One might think this aggressive nostalgia is a bit of tongue-in-cheek British humor if not for the fact that O’Connell devotes much of the book to excerpted correspondence by literary and political figures—e.g., Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, H.G. Wells and others.

Quirky, crotchety and unconvincing.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1880-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Marble Arch/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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