A memoiristic collection that shines with quiet strength.

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Normal's Just a Cycle on a Washing Machine

A MEMOIR

A housewife and mother in a Dallas suburb chronicles various changes in her life in this compilation of humor pieces.

Bourland, a Dallas-based writer and NPR broadcaster who mines humor and wit from the ups and downs of everyday living, offers a collection of her essays and columns in this debut. She divides the book into different laundry-themed sections, and in the first part, “Pre-Soak,” she introduces her surgeon husband, her two sons and daughter, and the family dog. In the second, “Normal,” readers will settle into her household’s routine and laugh at observations such as, “There is some sort of cosmic joke that at the exact point at which communication with a teen is at its lowest, the states decree you can sit in a vehicle in a city with horrendous traffic and ‘teach’ your kid to drive.” However, by the third section, “Spin Cycle,” Bourland writes that her husband had an affair that results in divorce, and she must reinvent herself, her family, and her column as a single woman in midlife. In “Second Cycle,” she writes movingly about keeping her family together and developing a career of her own for the first time as well as about dating again—right as her kids are starting to date for the first time. By the end of the book, she’s settled comfortably into the role of a grandmother. Overall, the author does an excellent job of grounding her material in real-life events. For example, as she and her children grow in different ways, she alludes to events such as the Gulf War, President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal, and 9/11, which all shape their perspectives. There are times when the memoir seems a bit quiet, especially in comparison to others that touch on more dramatic subjects, such as alcoholism or abuse. But as Bourland perseveres through hardships and maintains her sense of humor throughout these essays, she remains emotionally accessible to readers, who may recognize themselves in her. In the end, the “ordinary” nature of the author’s story is its greatest asset.

A memoiristic collection that shines with quiet strength.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9977415-0-6

Page Count: 218

Publisher: EPB Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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