An odd but alluring retelling of the works of an obscure author.




Schwartz (Some Women I Have Known, 2015, etc.) reintroduces a forgotten Dutch literary giant in this work of literary criticism.

Jozua Schwartz, under the pseudonym Maarten Maartens, was one of the most popular novelists writing in English at the turn of the last century—a feat made even more impressive by the fact that he spent most of his life in the Netherlands and that his first language was Dutch. So popular were his 14 novels and four volumes of short stories that Maartens became an intimate of Andrew Carnegie and was hosted at the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt. Following his death in 1915, however, Maartens’ work fell into near total obscurity—an injustice that the author of this volume seeks to set right. A great-nephew of Maartens’, he offers this introduction to 13 of the writer’s novels, with a second volume covering his first self-published novel and short fiction to follow. Schwartz writes in his introduction that the book “is not a scholarly effort. It is a collection of impressions of Maartens’ novels as his nephew experienced them.” After a short overview of Maartens’ life and career, Schwartz grants a chapter each to Maarten’s commercially published novels. Each includes a few notes on the novel’s publishing history, its reception, its principal characters, a summary of the story’s events, a brief note on its themes, and a selection of choice passages. The thorough summaries make up a majority of the text, averaging 25 pages each, and they’ll give readers a sense of Maartens’ talent and craft. Several of them, including those for The Sin of Joost Avelingh (1889) and God’s Fool (1892), may make readers want to seek out the original novels. As a means of stirring more interest in the author, the book succeeds, although anyone planning on reading the novels perhaps shouldn’t read too far into the summaries. Readers may wonder why Schwartz hasn’t simply republished the novels themselves, as they’re surely now in the public domain. Even so, there’s something wonderfully Borges-ian about reading summarizations of unread novels of a forgotten writer. One hopes that Maartens will return to print in the near future.

An odd but alluring retelling of the works of an obscure author. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-939688-61-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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