Thorough research combines with deep affection and admiration to create a clear analysis and tribute.

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BOB FOSSE AND DANCE IN THE AMERICAN MUSICAL

A former professional dancer and New York Public Library archivist and curator enlists the services of both experiences to describe and analyze the career of Bob Fosse (1927-1987), the legendary dancer, choreographer, and director.

Winkler (Their Championship Seasons: Acquiring, Processing, and Using Performing Arts Archives, 2001), now a blogger for the Huffington Post, has a focused agenda. He takes us through Fosse’s career (stage, TV, and film) show by show, dance number by dance number, and explains the birth of the project, Fosse’s involvement, the roles of key others (producers, performers, technical crew), the critical and public reception, and the consequent effects on Fosse and the cultural world he inhabited and—for a time—dominated. Although the author periodically refers to Fosse’s personal life (his marriages and myriad affairs—he was far from a loyal spouse), this information is principally contextual, but due to the recent flurry of charges of sexual impropriety by alpha males, this context will be timely. Indeed, sexuality was part of Fosse’s “thing,” and Winkler includes a brief scene of him chasing Mariel Hemingway around a room trying to convince her that sex with his current leading lady was de rigueur. (She escaped.) The author reminds us of Fosse’s numerous awards, including an astonishing eight Tony Awards for choreography as well as one for direction. Lovers of dance—and members of the dance cognoscenti—will especially enjoy Winkler’s detailed approach; general readers, probably less so. The text is not especially reader-friendly—lengthy paragraphs, few textual breaks and divisions—and Winkler is hardly disinterested. He is a Fosse fan and sees even in his less-than-successful efforts the glow of genius, a glow that the author’s determined prose and careful explication convince us is indeed there.

Thorough research combines with deep affection and admiration to create a clear analysis and tribute.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-19-933679-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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