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




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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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