WAMPETERS, FOMA & GRANFALLOONS

(OPINIONS)

"You understand, of course, that everything I say is horseshit" — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. — so damn disarming how can you not like the fella? He wants so much to please: "But it's a useful, comforting sort of horseshit, you see?" He has a good word for everyone — from the inventor of napalm to Madame Blavatsky, from a Cape Cod mass murderer to Louis-Ferdinand Celine. He even thinks a social evening with an old schoolmate and her husband Melvin Laird might not be unpleasant. The only person he seems to have any kind of real grudge against is Richard M. Nixon, and then, not because the President is "evil," but because "he dislikes us." Those made-up words in the title come from Cat's Cradle and define aspects of the sense of community among men that inspires Vonnegut to write this "horseshit." Vonnegut thinks these 25 short pieces (essays, speeches at colleges and so-called learned societes, reviews, one play, a fictitious Playboy interview) can be collected under the rubric of "New Journalism" which is to fiction, he suggests, as noise is to melody. He sounds off on science fiction writers, writing seminars, Maharishi, moon shots, Hesse, Biafra, torture, Vietnam, Hunter Thompson, and also blows his own horn now and again. Naturally. He is one of our most politicized writers. Vonnegut: "There may be some hope for mankind." So it goes.

Pub Date: May 14, 1974

ISBN: 0385333811

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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