One of our best novelists proves once again that he’s one of our best writers.




Books and authors, universal and personal history and miscellaneous arcana are carefully considered in this sixth showcase of Updike’s (Terrorist, 2006, etc.) tireless versatility and imposing range of interests.

Following the pattern established by such stimulating predecessors as Hugging the Shore (1983) and Odd Jobs (1991), it vividly reflects the motions of a busy mind finely attuned to the worlds it inhabits, explores and celebrates. Under the rubric “Everything Considered,” for example, Updike ponders features common to “works written late in an writer’s life”; the pleasures and distortions of literary biography; the sensual feel of “metal money” (i.e., coins, as opposed to paper currency); the enjoyment of playing poker physically (and not electronically); and cars he has owned (and, sometimes, loved). Tributory essays pay homage to such dissimilar figures as the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and the neglected Midwestern novelist Wright Morris. The man of letters in Updike responds eloquently when introducing new editions or translations of classic works (e.g., the Welsh Mabinogion, Thoreau’s Walden). Though often a cheerleader, Updike is never uncritical or facile, whether examining L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz as a quest novel or arguing that Uncle Tom’s Cabin benefits because its crusading author “repeatedly confronts the most accessible argument for atheism. God’s apparent silence and indifference to human suffering.” Modern American writers from Edmund Wilson to Jonathan Safran Foer, and their UK counterparts, from William Trevor to Ian McEwan, receive respectful critical attention—as do works written “In Other Tongues” by such masters as Álvaro Mutis (Colombia’s Faulkner), Turkey’s Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and Japan’s beguiling Nobel contender Haruki Murakami. Such critical gems are the heart of the book, but don’t overlook rich essays on artists (e.g., Goya, Dürer, Piranesi), or, among the volume’s concluding ephemera, three perfect paragraphs on the assigned subject, “What I Believe.”

One of our best novelists proves once again that he’s one of our best writers.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-307-26640-8

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?