Not quite as imaginative and unusual as the marvelous Glass, Paper, Beans (1997), but nonetheless another fine work of...

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THE STUFF OF DREAMS

BEHIND THE SCENES OF AN AMERICAN COMMUNITY THEATER

Novelist and reporter Cohen (Heat Lightning, 1997, etc.) examines the Arlington Friends of the Drama (AFD) production of M. Butterfly for what it reveals about the changing shape of community theater—and in the nature of community itself.

Founded in 1923 as a genteel recreation for society ladies in suburban Boston, AFD in the late 1990s found itself struggling to attract younger members, who had less free time than their predecessors and looser links to Arlington (where its recently renovated theater stands). M. Butterfly, which features nudity and a same-sex love affair, was a controversial choice for the over-50 crowd that constitutes the majority of AFD’s members, but director Ceila Couture (AFD president and a manager at Hewlitt-Packard) believed it was an artistically necessary step. She recruited most of the AFD stalwarts for her design team and cast a canny mix of old-timers (including board member and perennial leading man Jimmy Grana as French diplomat Gallimard) and newcomers (most notably, 22-year-old Patrick Wang as the Chinese opera star who impersonates a woman and becomes Gallimard’s “mistress”). Cohen follows the production from auditions through opening night to its triumph at a regional competition, detailing the hard work of actors, directors, designers, and backstage personnel, all of whom are profiled with empathy and acuity in lucid, deceptively simple prose. Eschewing the now-tired traditions of New Journalism, she keeps herself out of this third-person narrative, although her intelligence and sensitivity as an observer are always evident. A few first-person chapters, somewhat bumpily integrated, movingly convey Cohen’s love for amateur theater as the purest expression of the universal human desire to tell stories and make art—which she finds alive and well at AFD.

Not quite as imaginative and unusual as the marvelous Glass, Paper, Beans (1997), but nonetheless another fine work of cultural reflection by a gifted young writer.

Pub Date: May 7, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-89981-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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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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