Lucid, readable prose but, as travelogue, neither transporting nor insightful. (map)



A pilgrimage along an ancient road, from St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the site of a shrine to the Apostle James.

Having trekked 283 kilometers of the route three years earlier, novelist Harrison (The Seal Wife, 2002, etc.) returns for a second trip with her 12-year-old daughter. On both journeys, she endures the burden of a heavy pack and temperamental weather, blisters, thirst, and fatigue, finding little relief in spartan meals and accommodations along the way. This account of discomfort, though, is rather matter-of-fact, and the author does little to offset any of it with those transcendent moments that make travel—and travel-writing—engaging and worthwhile. Harrison's capable writing is flattened by her emotional evenness; her meditative detachment, perhaps a spiritual achievement appropriate to the milieu, results in a muted account that lacks passion. Harrison's occasional reflections on mortality, fear, and family outshine her encounters with locals and descriptions of place, but she doesn't contemplate anything too deeply or for too long. When, after days of eating, sleeping, and walking alongside her daughter, it occurs to Harrison that she's almost intimidated by her child: “her beauty and her silences, her ability to wound me.” But she doesn't pursue the revelation or use it to lessen the distance between them or to better understand its nature. Also missing is any substantive discussion of Harrison's faith. Her Catholicism is hardly traditional: raised by Jewish grandparents and schooled by Christian Scientists, she converted to Catholicism at 12, married a Quaker, and never baptized her children. On this trek through holy ground, she neglects to discuss her enduring faith, its role in her life, or how (and if at all) she intends to pass it on to her children.

Lucid, readable prose but, as travelogue, neither transporting nor insightful. (map)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7922-3745-5

Page Count: 168

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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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