IN THE WILDERNESS

COMING OF AGE IN UNKNOWN COUNTRY

A poet's sad and beautiful memoir about growing up in Idaho logging country, in the complicated bosom of a fundamentalist Christian family. We readers often approach poets' memoirs warily: There is only so far that lovely, delicately crafted reminiscenses of childhood can really take us. They deliver pleasure, easily, but rarely go beyond it to the kind of bold, perspective-wrenching joy that is the province of real literature. Barnes's book forces reconsideration of the form. More in the tradition of spiritual autobiography than literary memoir—with its trials in the wilderness, falls from grace, and conversions and reconversions to faith—Barnes's tale is in part that of an actual American wilderness, the logging camp where she began her life. Her parents' Christian rebirth came later and the scene reordered itself to include revival meetings, dowdy clothes, speaking in tongues, and mandated demure feminine behavior. At a revival meeting a preacher declared Barnes to be a healer, a girl with a gift. At 14, increasingly restive, she was labeled a juvenile delinquent and was sent as punishment to live with the loving, tranquil family of a former minister who, notwithstanding the girl's restored piety, soon chose to shun her as a satanic influence. Adolescence went on and on, with Barnes's very real religiosity becoming increasingly, unsurprisingly complex. In some ways Barnes was a regular American girl; in other ways, like Yeats's dancer indistinguishable from the dance, she herself is the complicated and continuing story of the American struggle with raw wilderness and with the dark night of the soul (her mother finds her as a teenager slumped against the side of her bed, having fallen asleep praying, and wakes her up to go to school). It could scarcely be more significant that the author still lives in Idaho, above the Clearwater River. This is also a book about humility, and how one is of one's origins, no matter how far a person has traveled in imagination, artistry, and insight.

Pub Date: May 3, 1996

ISBN: 0-385-47820-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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