Exemplary travel-writing marred by less-than-enthralling ventures into the self’s interior.



A luminously written, thoughtful account of a solo crossing of Papua New Guinea is also an uneasy mix of exorcism and exploration as a young writer wrestles with old anxieties while facing new challenges.

Though belonging to that contemporary genre of travel-writing in which self-absorption and naïveté often predominate, Salak’s story offers vivid and informative commentary as it describes a region whose interior was only first explored in the 1930s. New Guinea is still a place where cannibalism is rumored to be practiced—she visits a village of “Christian cannibals” in which women still wear grass skirts and the numerous tribes engage in blood feuds. Towns like Port Moresby, however, suffer from the usual Third World ills as gangs of unemployed men, the notorious “rascals,” regularly rape, steal, and generally run amok. As she describes her voyage up the Fly River, she visits a refugee camp for New Guineans who have fled the brutal depredations of the Indonesian army in neighboring Irian Jaya and talks to Pastor Carl, who wants her to tell the world what his people have suffered; stays with the occasional missionary family, who maintain typical suburban lifestyles in the middle of the jungle; and then after crossing the mountainous divide, rafts down the Sepik River on a leaky contraption made from canoes to revisit her past. Her childhood was unhappy: her atheist parents believed in self-reliance, and not love; she was shy and unsure of herself and thought travel would help her conquer her fears. Before setting out for New Guinea, she had traveled in Asia and East Africa, where in 1992 she was nearly raped as she journeyed through the war zone of Mozambique to Zimbabwe. But these physical tests of the spirit, as she comes to understand near the end of her journey, cannot offer the salvation she craves. It has to come from within, and she suggests that in New Guinea she learned “self acceptance—contentment.”

Exemplary travel-writing marred by less-than-enthralling ventures into the self’s interior.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58243-165-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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



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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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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