A commendable essay collection by one of the leading practitioners of the form.



A collection of essays, some journalistic, some critical, some memoiristic, all marked by the author’s distinct intelligence.

In “Mark My Words. Maybe.” an essay not included here, Jamison (Director, Graduate Nonfiction Program/Columbia Univ.; The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath, 2018, etc.) recounts getting Roman playwright Terence’s quotation Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto ("I am human, nothing human is alien to me") tattooed on her arm. That apothegm, which also served as the epigraph to her first collection, The Empathy Exams (2014), is put to the test in her latest book. Whether encountering a boy in a wheelchair in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, or a pushy woman on a layover in Houston, the author wonders at the limits of empathy. In “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order To Live Again,” she recounts her interview with a man who claimed he was “not a gun nut” even as he handled two guns and left “a collection of bullets spread across his comforter” for her to find: “Had I been foolishly unwilling to acknowledge that some people were alien to me? Did I need to identify with all the gun-loving men of this world? Was it naive or even ethically irresponsible to believe I should find common ground with everyone, or that it was even possible?” Jamison’s other main intellectual concern is the exploitative role of the journalist. In “Maximum Exposure,” she offers a sympathetic portrait of the photographer Annie Appel, who must ask her subjects, “Can I take this moment of your life and make my art from it?” The common cause she finds with the journalistic skepticism of Janet Malcolm and James Agee is odd, though, considering how many of her essays begin as reporting. Jamison thinks and writes so elegantly, the subjects that serve as many of her jumping-off points risk feeling superfluous to the real business of her essaying. Still, as with nearly all of her writing, this one is well worth reading.

A commendable essay collection by one of the leading practitioners of the form.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-25963-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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



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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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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