Reassuring portraits of life in small-town America, gathered along the eastern shore of the US when the tourists have vanished and the true nature of a place is revealed.
Travel-writer McAlpine (Outside, Sports Illustrated, etc.), with a degree in environmental science, believes that “harbors of upstanding conscience and intent still exist, vast anchorages where people and communities are as good and right as people and communities can be.” To find them, he travels from Florida to Maine in the off-season, driving alone in his van with sleeping bag and kayak. He begins his five-month journey in October in Fort Lauderdale, meeting up with an old acquaintance, now a middle-aged lifeguard, barnacle scraper, and part-time minister. From there he drives south to Cape Canaveral, where a friend introduces him to a long-time Floridian dedicated to saving sea turtles, and then on to Key West, to meet a husband-and-wife team whose life is preserving coral reefs. While people are his focus, McAlpine has a good eye for nature, and he blends in local lore from time to time. By November, he has turned north, stopping at St. Simons, Georgia, to visit a couple who run a rescue-and-recovery business, and then on to Valona, to spend time with a shrimp-boat owner. In South Carolina, he learns about Gullah and voodoo from the sheriff’s son, and in North Carolina he spends Thanksgiving weekend on Ocracoke Island. There, McAlpine, who makes friends easily, attends a music and storytelling festival and is invited to a neighborhood potluck supper. By December he’s reached the Outer Banks and by mid-January is on nearly ice-bound Tangier Island spending time with Tim, a policeman whose beat is the isolated island and its waters. After stopping at New Jersey’s little Strathmere, whose post office gives him shelter from the cold, he joins a couple in Montauk, Long Island, who feed cats abandoned by summer visitors. In Connecticut, a newspaperman takes him cross-country skiing on the beach. After surfing off Rhode Island and walking Cape Cod’s shore, McAlpine heads for his final destination: Maine. There, as everywhere on his journey, he connects with the men and women who make their homes and their livelihoods in small towns that tourists only visit, and he is content with what he’s found.
A thoroughly pleasant read, tailor-made for the Reader’s Digest audience.
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").
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)