A very good memoir, and with the right cast, its movie version would be even better.

The Broken Places


A memoir that recalls a gifted but troubled youth’s first love in the brutal setting of a psychiatric ward.

McBride (Hawks on Hawks, 2013, etc.) follows his past biographies of Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Howard Hawks, and Frank Capra with this unsparing account of a mental and spiritual breakdown he suffered as an hard-driving, highly devout Catholic senior at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee in the mid-1960s. At his nadir, he says that he was broken almost beyond repair. But he was saved, he writes, by an even more troubled but remarkable fellow inmate—a half-Irish, half-Menominee woman named Kathy Wolf. His love for her made him whole, he says. Eventually, McBride recovered and took early steps in a highly successful career as an American film historian, screenwriter, and film professor at San Francisco State University. However, he felt a certain ambivalence about the erratic Wolf and let her slip out of his life, even as she sank lower. At its core, this novelistic memoir acknowledges McBride’s debt to Wolf, who, as she later told him, gave him not just her body, but her soul. McBride is a masterful writer who’s very much at home with profanity-laden dialogue, although his quoted conversations with Wolf and others from a half-century ago seem more like screenwriting than recollection. In addition to his sympathetic rendering of Wolf, his highly detailed recollections of sexual repression and the abuse that he says he suffered during his strict Catholic education will resonate with readers who’ve had similar experiences. His narrative also shows a way forward for readers who’ve been touched by mental collapse.

A very good memoir, and with the right cast, its movie version would be even better.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943784-12-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hightower Press, Berkeley

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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?