Half of the writers here will cringe when they read their words in 20 years, but the rest provide some humdinging stuff, as...

WITH LOVE AND SQUALOR

14 WRITERS RESPOND TO THE WORK OF J.D. SALINGER

A handful of young(ish) writers map their responses to J.D. Salinger’s work in essays that range from loose and funny to remarkably uptight, gathered by Poughkeepsie Review founding editor Kotzen and novelist Beller (The Sleep-Over Artist, 2000, etc.).

Slice him this way or that, Salinger has been an enormous influence on American literature. Kotzen and Beller asked 14 writers to consider their reactions to his writing, and the result is this jangle of pieces that knock about in Salingerland, for better or worse. Walter Kirn suggests that great books fade into the background while triggering self-centered memories, and if his writing-school essay is any measure of that indulgence, then The Catcher in the Rye is a very great book indeed. Emma Forrest administers Salinger the defibrillator—“Salinger is the literary equivalent of a pedophile: the child’s world equals good and all adults are fake and phoney. That’s how a pervert thinks”—and then turns it on herself: “I don't think that people who are phoney are necessarily a bad thing,” embarrassingly invoking Vonnegut to support her contention. Lucinda Rosenfeld is devilishly perceptive and fast to draw a sleeve across the windpipe, while noting that “brilliant writing tends to steam-roll everything in its path.” And Karen Bender is more specific in seeing “how characters disappeared into their gestures, dialogue, and how Salinger’s breath was transformed into perception, scene, craft.” Jane Mendelsohn shifts between some bedrock material, recognizing in Salinger kids’ first encounter with “two kinds of truth and that negotiating between them marks the beginning of the end of childhood,” and some really fruity stuff, like Catcher isn’t about understanding but rather “all about death.”

Half of the writers here will cringe when they read their words in 20 years, but the rest provide some humdinging stuff, as much tortured fun as their subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7679-0799-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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