A welcome vade mecum on the business and art of writing for publication.
“Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” So growled the prolific sports journalist Red Smith, who had to bleed daily. As Poets & Writers veteran editors Larimer and Gannon note, the business of publishing has changed considerably since Smith’s heyday, but the verities are eternal. “Writing is a lifelong endeavor,” they write, “and one that doesn’t end when you finish a poem, story, essay, or longer writing project.” That is just so, and against that truth and others, they propose sets of “action items,” such as making a list of your personal goals as a writer, at first short-term (daily word count achieved, for instance) and then longer-term career objectives. These items are highly specific: If you want to sign up for an MFA, they write, then research which ones fit your needs best, interview administrators and students, and otherwise do your homework. This specificity is the most helpful part of a book that is altogether instructive, if sometimes a touch discouraging: As Larimer and Gannon are quick to point out, in 2017, the median income for full-time writers was $20,300, a shade south of the poverty line for a family of three. For those willing to brave the long odds, the authors offer a few bits of cheerleading, including the thought that it’s OK to “give yourself permission to brag a bit”—which is to say, if someone asks what you do, call yourself a writer and own it without apology. Among the many highlights of this book for beginning writers is a list of writers’ conferences that appeal to underrepresented constituencies in a publishing world that, because it’s so economically marginal, tends to favor those advantaged enough not to have to worry about income.
A book of benefit to well-practiced as well as novice writers, full of useful advice, pointers, and prompts.
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)