A devastating and intelligently told story of siblings searching for answers that reveals how a family can be torn apart by...

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Salvation

A JUDGE'S MEMOIR OF A MORMON CHILDHOOD

A family court judge struggles to come to terms with her tumultuous childhood.

After a visit from her brother Eric, it became clear to English that dark questions from their childhood in Utah still haunted her: “How could I exorcise my mother yet carry her still? How had I deeply loved a monstrous father... [and] why did I seem successful as an adult and yet feel so utterly lost?” Eric soon arranged for a return to Salt Lake City to confront their parents and the Mormon Church. As a narrative device, this setup provides a compelling and even suspenseful structure to English’s debut memoir. Stories unfold within stories as these two adults attempt to revisit houses and family, reconnect with each other, and confess their darkest secrets. Memories of their parents’ bitter battles over money and religion expand thoughtfully into family mythologies of early pioneers and settlers. English traces her own personality back to these family memories and her poetic descriptions of the Utah mountains and their “geology of fear.”  She also examines the ripple effects of sexism, racism, and homophobia within a church she tried to challenge but soon fled. The answers Eric and English sought were never easy; the violent, alcoholic mother they remember was also the first to stand up for equality against her wealthy parents. But even more complicated is English’s disturbing relationship with her father. The author is fearless in revisiting incredibly difficult moments, moving effortlessly between perspectives of the detached judge and the naive young girl mistakenly confident in a father’s love. English crafts passages that are truly shocking and difficult to read, but then pushes them even further by using them to explain her own views on family law as a judge. She makes many arguments about the system and her experiences, some thought-provoking and some inevitably controversial. But like all the stories contained in her memoir, they are consistently well constructed and seem necessary for her personal salvation.

A devastating and intelligently told story of siblings searching for answers that reveals how a family can be torn apart by history, intolerance, and abuse.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-61783-0

Page Count: 346

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2016

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

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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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