THE NEW OXFORD BOOK OF LIGHT VERSE

"Anon. is not my favorite poet," writes K. Amis, butting against the first Oxford Book of Light Verse (1938) compiled by W. H. Auden, which includes anonymous ballads, folk songs, and nursery rhymes right along with the poems of Chaucer-to-Byron-to-Betjeman. Auden took light verse to be popular verse—"simple, clear, and gay," the natural voice of the people, and not always humorous or cheerful. Amis, who will have none of this socialist-tinged nonsense ("I will be satisfied if another generation. . . sees in mine a reactionary anthology"), has compiled a collection of poetry which is light by contrast with high and serious verse, "subversive, disrespectful," technically impeccable ("a juggler is not allowed to drop a plate"), and, in its developed form, a product of modern times. Here, the output from Shakespeare and Jonson to Swift, Southey, Byron, and Hood occupies only 80 pages (which, for reasons given, allot no space to Dryden, Pope, or Burns). Then we are treated to a large sampling of vers de societe from Praed ("Good night to the Season!—the dances,/The fillings of hot little rooms") to—surprise—Thomas Hardy to Betjeman, Auden, and Philip Larkin who, even at their most frivolous, transcend the form. There is a plenitude of parody (a glut, one suspects, for some tastes), a so-so assortment of nonsense verse (big on Gilbert, weak on the too-"whimsical" Lear), some lovely oddments (like the anon. clerihew: "Spinoza/ Collected curiosa:/ Bawdy belles-lettres,/ Etc"), and, as he notes, a large representation of the poets of Amis' generation, some of them rather too archly British to elicit anything but a sneer over here. (The small, unrepresentative American selection—B. Franklin, Bret Harte, Frost, De Vries—is best forgotten, as the title suggests.) So: a strongly flavored selection, sparkling and accomplished and sedulously unserious, to supplement (but not supplant) Auden's more lingering measures.

Pub Date: June 1, 1978

ISBN: 0192820753

Page Count: 347

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1978

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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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