An unpredictable, unfailingly intelligent demonstration of a unique wit given free reign.

DELIRIOUSLY HAPPY

AND OTHER BAD THOUGHTS

The Thurber Prize winner struts his stuff.

Doyle (Go, Mutants!, 2010, etc.) collects a dizzyingly diverse and consistently hilarious body of short humor pieces originally published in a variety of publications, making a case for the former Simpsons scribe as one of the premier practitioners of the form. Encompassing parody, absurdism, black satire, loopy ephemera and unhinged silliness, the author displays a mastery of varied stylistic approaches and comic voices, from the Pynchonesque t.V. to a bravura approximation of Mark Twain in Huck of Darkness, in which “lost” passages from Huckleberry Finn are re-inserted into the narrative, making the classic’s subtextual homosexual content decidedly more emphatic. It’s hard to pin a consistent comic philosophy on Doyle’s pieces, aside from a Simpsons-like devotion to dismantling the conventions of social and cultural mores with ruthless efficiency. Highlights include an epic wedding invitation tweaking the smug bride’s increasingly berserk instructions for those attending her special day; a letter from summer camp that reads like the fever dream of a young G. Gordon Liddy; a surreally pathetic newsletter detailing the continuing trauma and attendant delusions of a romantic breakup; and a savage, dog-centric takedown of memoirists in the manner of James Frey and Augusten Burroughs. Doyle repeatedly employs such devices as absurd lists (pretentious ice cream flavors, ideas for pet stores) and magazine-style questionnaires to help pace the collection and suggest a formal consistency, but the greatest pleasure is the sheer range of tones and subject matter on display.

An unpredictable, unfailingly intelligent demonstration of a unique wit given free reign.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-196683-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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