Better-than-average fare from a comic-turned-author, but not nearly as cutting and funny as his standup material.

SPOILED ROTTEN AMERICA

OUTRAGES OF CONTEMPORARY LIFE

Veteran standup comic and conservative essayist takes a shot at contemporary America.

Miller is an anomaly: a popular comic of the ’80s and ’90s who parlayed that success into a steady run of supporting roles in film (The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman), and also a diehard conservative who’s extremely funny—with P.J. O'Rourke, that makes two. For the past few years, the bracingly misanthropic Miller has beefed up his résumé by contributing to neo-conservative house magazine the Weekly Standard, which seems to have sharpened his writing abilities enough for his first book to be more than the usual fare: i.e., there’s not too much warmed-over standup material and no sentences written in all caps to fill up space. The 17 pieces here form a mix of the mundane (“My Slacks at Sacks”), the profane (“Debbie Does Dallas II: The Quickening”) and the gaspingly hilarious ( “Five Levels of Drinking”); they hit the mark about two-thirds of the time. The points wander, though interestingly, as in “I’m Dreaming . . . of a White . . . Chris-er, Holidays,” which jumps from standard anti-PC bleating to some fairly sharp notes on subjects like Jews who pretend that Israel is the source of all the world’s problems (“Your soul is so torn you wouldn’t know your own head’s been cut off after the video takes Best Newcomer at the Al Jazeera Emmys”). Miller makes sure to include enough self-deprecating family humor—playing, as most married comics do, the clueless schlub whose spouse and children run rings around him—but he’s obviously not afraid of getting serious, whether in his political material or in one poignantly personal and saddening anecdote about racism.

Better-than-average fare from a comic-turned-author, but not nearly as cutting and funny as his standup material.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-081908-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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