The sexy sistah from the TV show Living Single offers nothing new in this not-ready-for-prime-time guide for the single woman. Coles, a divorced black woman, rounds up the usual list of instructions: dating dos and don'ts, how to identify ``Mr. Right On!,'' learning to love yourself (metaphorically and physically), and how to get into successful relationships and out of disastrous ones. It's a tried-and-true humor-book formula that depends on only one thing: the humor. Unfortunately, Coles just isn't funny. In her list of ``Ten Ways to Tell If a Brother Is Tight,'' she offers: ``Instead of a wallet he carries a piggy bank'' and ``The rain is his car wash.'' Coles's insights into the dating scene are banal, if not downright vulgar: ``Nowadays,'' she writes, ``trying to find your soul mate is harder than trying to take a dump in a public restroom.'' And while she argues in the introduction that this book is for everyone (``black women, black men, white women, white men, Hindus, Latinos, Filipinos, Quakers, the Flemish, Jews, Gentiles, Parisians, Istanbuliates, Istanbulionions, Istanbulish . . . huh?''), Coles's inclusiveness will only confuse her would-be core audience of black women. Take some of her ``Nine Ways to Detect a Communication Breakdown in Your Relationship'': ``You tell her you want to see more of her, so she gains fifteen pounds'' or ``She tells you she wants to start seeing other people. You get her a subscription to People magazine.'' In a book that's mainly directed toward women, the reader wonders why the author is even talking to HIM. Coles would do better to stick to Living Single and leave the role of Miss Lonelyhearts to others.
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)
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").