Hallock's great accomplishment here is a documentation of literary homophobia. It will take another writer to give us a...

THE AMERICAN BYRON

HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE FALL OF FITZ-GREENE HALLECK

In his new study of a 19th-century American poet, Hallock uncovers convincing evidence that homophobic critics forced him into selfcensorship, isolation, and, ultimately, silence.

Are we talking about Walt Whitman, that Great Gay Poet of Mannahatta? No, of course not. Whitman was attacked but never gave in. It was FitzGreene Halleck (1790–1867), the dashing New Yorker who strutted and fretted his hour upon the stage and then was heard no more. He was madly in love with J.R. Drake, with whom he wrote the “Croaker Papers” (a series of poems satirizing New York society). The Croakers were the talk of the town, and so were Halleck and Drake, although they published the poems under pseudonyms. But Drake married a woman, and this left Halleck in a snit for the rest of his life. When Drake died at the age of 25, Halleck was mortified with grief and produced the widely anthologized elegy ``On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake.'' He wrote satires—“Fanny,'' for example—that earned comparison with Byron, but this is a bit of a stretch. Halleck lived a quiet life disconnected from the history unfolding around him. He hated democracy. He called himself a monarchist. He refused to write about the Civil War because he cared for neither side. His last words were ``Marie, hand me my pantaloons, if you please.'' Byron died at war. Whitman at least got to the battleground, and he was one who never let the critics stop him from writing, even if he did censor his own lines from time to time. Hallock, a distant relative of Halleck, unfortunately never inherited his ancestor's felicity with words. He seems to have a perverse aversion to narrative, and his writing is marred by the tittering wit of the academic—as when he writes of Halleck's phallic imagery in an early poem: ``Stiff memory is penetrated by a metaphoric dart, akin to Cupid's arrow.''

Hallock's great accomplishment here is a documentation of literary homophobia. It will take another writer to give us a compelling biography of this once-famous poet.

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-299-16800-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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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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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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