A refreshing autobiography from a spirited woman.

The Olive Picker


A woman searches for happiness despite lifelong, life-threatening abuse in this debut memoir.

Brettell and her sister, Debbie, lived with their mother following their parents’ divorce in the late 1950s. Not long after, their mother remarried, and according to the author, the girls’ new stepfather proved to be a violent man. He invented reasons to beat the girls, she says, and sexually assaulted Debbie; her mother took her to the hospital to ensure that she wasn’t pregnant. Despite the abuse, the girls’ mother stood by her husband’s decisions and allowed his tyranny to run the house, Brettell says. By the time the author entered high school, her guidance counselor there had learned about Brettell’s treatment at home, and arranged for her to graduate early. After graduation, the sisters roomed together, struggled to find work, and questioned whether they were intelligent enough to attend college. Brettell found herself thrust into marriage with a cowboy who eventually gave her a life on a ranch, which satisfied her love of animals. However, he also developed a love of firearms and exhibited violent, strange behavior, she says, even when he was in the presence of their two young children. Eventually, the author saved enough money to divorce her husband and became an accountant to support her small family. At 34, she met the man who would become her second husband at a church dance; he was persistent and possessive in his courtship, she says, though unloving in demeanor. Overall, Brettell demonstrates a cinematic command of her story. She intersperses chapters about past events with segments relating therapy sessions. These sessions create a rhythm within the memoir and serve to point readers to the various ways in which Brettell’s past and initial abuse enabled a later, violent, near-death experience. The author relates painful events, but often does so in an optimistic, encouraging tone. She understands hard work and adaptability, and readers witness how frequently she’s willed her life to move forward—in her career, her education, and her love life. This isn’t a victim’s tale; rather, it’s a guide to survival.

A refreshing autobiography from a spirited woman. 

Pub Date: May 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9861929-0-6

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Jazz Dog Press

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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