Spalla (Catch Your Breath, 2014) offers a travel memoir and a love story about two Americansin Paris.
In 2003, at the age of 57, the twice-divorced author says that she had “given up on finding anything close to lasting love”—that is, until she met a man named Bernie Verdier in Huntsville, Alabama. He was born in Paris but had served in the U.S. Army for 22 years before embarking on a second, 20-year career as a program manager for defense contractors. The French-speaking, Corvette-driving Verdier and the author hit it off well enough to decide to travel to Paris together. “That was almost twelve years ago,” says Spalla, “and my life has not been the same since then.” She takes readers on a number of intimate journeys to France, providing observations (the smell of Paris is “a combination of bread baking, car exhaust fumes, a bit of sewer gas, potatoes frying, cigarette smoke, and musty sea water”), tips (“try the American Cathedral of Paris” for an English-language church service, she says), and personal stories, such as one in which she apprehended a pickpocket. Overall, the book makes for a pleasant mélange of material that’s lighthearted but earnest. The Alabaman author’s personality inevitably shines through; a self-proclaimed “Southern belle,” she provides honest accounts of occasional timidity (“I didn’t venture out much on my own,” she admits of her first apartment stay in Paris) as well as practical advice (“don’t drink very much unless you have a cooperative bladder!” she says of attending the Tour de France). Overall, readers will likely find her story to be both useful and inspiring.
An insightful, easy-to-read guide to an illustrious European city.
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)
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").