Fifteen women share their thoughts about life’s transitions.
In her debut book, journalist Mead gathers essays by women in their late 30s to early 50s, reflecting on love, friendship, careers, family, dating, and self-image, among many other issues that have become important as they face a challenging new decade of their lives. Although the editor underscores the “divergent voices” in the collection, the majority of the contributors are white, middle-class, successful writers (one, Sujean Rim, is an illustrator who offers a cartoon about giving up skinny jeans). They do, however, reveal diverse experiences: Meghan Daum, memoirist columnist for the New York Times Book Review, has settled into single life and a fruitful career in Manhattan; still, she feels a “current of constant low-grade shock…about how old I’ve managed to become.” KJ Dell’Antonia, editor of the New York Times’ “Motherlode” column, apologizes for not answering an email message because of the many more important tasks (buying bread, snuggling her son) that occupy her time. Essayist Sloane Crosley assesses the changes in her middle-aged face. Two particularly moving pieces concern friendship: Catherine Newman’s chronicle of the outfits she and her best friend wore, beginning in kindergarten, in 1972, and ending in 2015, when Newman cherishes her friend’s tunics, yoga pants, and Ugg boots after she died of ovarian cancer. “I am wearing my heart on my sleeve,” she writes, “my memories like a crazy quilt of loss.” It took a shattered bone for novelist Allison Winn Scotch, who prided herself on being stubbornly independent, to see that friends and family can be extraordinarily caring, “more worthy than you realized, even when you already found them worthy enough.” The essays are interspersed with brief remarks about the biggest surprise, most important lesson, or most salient mantra gleaned from getting older and, the writers hope, wiser. “Everything looks better, feels better, and is way more manageable in the morning,” offers Lee Woodruff, whose husband’s (journalist Bob Woodruff) roadside bomb injury was the subject of one of her memoirs.
Candid, often charming revelations from a host of articulate women.
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").
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)