A thoughtful and amusing look at a troubled nation’s soul.


A series of comic vignettes plumbs the cultural condition of contemporary Greece. 

Economically embattled, Greece is typically portrayed as a nation of hapless victims or adolescent derelicts. Debut author Paradias assembles a series of character portraits of the troubled modern nation with an ancient past that transcends that binary narrative. The political and fiscal dysfunction of the country is either a symptom or catalyst of extraordinary eccentricity; the author builds his short remembrances around colorfully quirky types. For example, Mister Shiftless solicited help building a special “orgone accumulator”—essentially a box filled with semiprecious stones—that he believed would cure his cancer after he’d masturbated within it. Mister Crawley was a devoted father and a disciple of Satan. Shady Senior tried to sell Paradias a house riddled with bullet holes. Sgt. Cynic casually explained how to navigate the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the Greek military. Father Woe was a priest his whole adult life, an experience that left him an atheist. The author also discusses some peculiar cultural aspects of Greek life, including its ambivalence about sexual education, its relationship with superstition and sorcery, and the way marketing pamphlets promising a better life express a paradoxical combination of popular discontent and resilient hopefulness. Paradias doesn’t try to provide much by way of concrete political analysis or policy recommendations—he does briefly lament the proliferation of leftists in government and the unwieldy size of the public sector. But this study is meant as a portal into the Greek ethos itself, not a white paper on its macroeconomic floundering. Paradias’ tableaux are consistently offbeat and often very funny, even more so if the stories are free of artistic embellishment, as he insists they are. Sometimes he fails to clearly draw the connection between the outlandish behavior and Greek society—surely other nations are whimsically kooky as well. Overall, though, he provides a welcome counterpoint to an increasingly stale debate about the future of Greece. The author’s final appraisal isn’t bleak—Greece has suffered much in its long history and has survived—but it isn’t cheery either: “Nothing too fundamental is going to change. Every single thing written in this book, all the aching and the weirdness and the sex and the death, they’re going to still be around, reminding us of our humanity.”

A thoughtful and amusing look at a troubled nation’s soul. 

Pub Date: April 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946335-07-4

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Rooster Republic Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2017

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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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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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