In this sequel to Letters From Leelanau (not reviewed), Stocking sets out from her farmhouse on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula to explore her home state—``as good a microcosm'' as any, she asserts, for an examination of contemporary American culture. Her series of deliberately haphazard journeys produces a thoughtful collection of essays and sketches about the lasting diversity of the daily round in the small towns and back roads of the country's rugged northern edge. Drawn particularly to the islands of the Great Lakes, Stocking is in search of an ``island of `unchange' in a sea of change'' where life is simpler and people know and trust their neighbors. She finds it on Bois Blanc, an insular community that admits the best modernity has to offer- -computers in its one-room schoolhouse, an ``astonishingly sophisticated'' bookstore—and staves off the worst. On Drummond Island she follows the public battle between a crusading journalist and Tom Monaghan, the Domino's Pizza magnate, over a rustic community's future. On Sugar Island she hopes to show her daughter Gaia, whose father is an Ottawa Indian, ``people who look like her just living their lives.'' For Stocking, island life is a welcome anachronism, and she records its rhythms lovingly: the daily arrivals and departures at ferry landings; the seasonal wax and wane of the population; and the distinctions that separate natives from outsiders and the islands themselves from the mainland. A constant is the author's own introspection, an earnest self-examination that only seldom wears thin as she interweaves personal history with more far-reaching questions about society, fate, democracy, morality, and the nature of God and the universe. Stocking's sharp descriptions of the natural world help ground these abstractions, and her enthusiasm for travel and for the lives of strangers enlivens a richly detailed narrative. (Illustrations by Mary Harney, not seen)
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)
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").