MORE MATTER

ESSAYS AND CRITICISM

A strong gathering of essays, criticism, addresses, introductions, and autobiographical commentaries written and published over the past eight years. “Writing criticism,” Updike explains in an earlier collection of essays and occaisonal pieces, “is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea.” And so it may be, but plying the estuaries of art and literature in the Updike dinghy remains a pleasure of considerable magnitude. The new book takes its title from Queen Gertrude’s admonition to Polonius: “More matter, with less art.” Luckily, Updike doesn—t stint on matter or art. Like its predecessor volumes, More Matter draws its appeal from Updike’s shrewd judgment and unique verbal sparkle, but also from his cosmopolitan range. He moves easily from Kierkegaard to Lincoln and Melville; from Edmond Wilson to Camille Paglia or Joseph Brodsky or Junichiro Tanizaki. The list could go on for quite some time; this book is nearly 1,000 pages long. The abiding Updike themes of sex and religion and the manifold perplexities of American life are in abundant evidence, but a new one appears alongside them: it is old age. Updike is now 67 and has during the 1990s begun to ruminate about what it means to be old and how the US has changed during his lifetime. He touches on it frequently, as in an essay on the liberating suntan culture of the 1950s and “60s: “The young married beauties with whom my then wife and I spent great chunks of summer sunning on a broad beach north of Boston have in the subsequent decades gone from being nut-brown Pocahontases to looking like Sitting Bull, with a melancholy facial fissure for every broken treaty.” The key word here is “melancholy,” for it is the mood that stimulates a good many of Updike’s insights throughout this superior collection. Updike declares in his preface that More Matter will be his last book of collected criticism. Let us hope he changes his mind.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40630-1

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more