Sarno, an American, heads for the rain forest of the Central African Republic. Once there, he not only finds love but—with typical Western hubris—saves the Pygmies from themselves and from the modern world. With a one-way ticket and his recording equipment, Sarno, inspired by Colin Turnbull's The Forest People, goes to Africa to record the music of the Pygmies. His first encounter with the little-known Ba-BenjellÇ Pygmies, who live on the edge of the forests, is disappointing: Though they dance and sing for him, they seem to have become idle scroungers who while away their days smoking marijuana and drinking. Sarno soon despairs, but when he accompanies some Pygmies into the forest on a hunting trip, he also sees how living even temporarily in their traditional habitat can transform them. The Pygmies immediately become healthier, more energetic, and more resourceful as they practice their old crafts and food-gathering habits. Their music improves as well, as they sing of the forest, invoking the great spirits that lurk there. Encouraged, Sarno returns to the West, where his recordings are well received, but he is soon back, contracts for more music in hand and determined to spend his life with the Pygmies—a decision greatly affected by his falling in love with a young Pygmy girl, Ngbali, 18-20 years his junior. This romance comes to obsess Sarno as Ngbali, while agreeing to marry him, constantly avoids him. Meanwhile, away from the forest, the Pygmies resume their self- destructive behavior in the village, which has become a noisome cesspool. Many sicken and die, and Sarno persuades them to move closer to the forest, where they establish a more traditional and healthier community. There, Ngbali finally marries the author. Sarno, despite his genuine affection for the Pygmies, is a puzzling figure who unintentionally reveals more about himself than about the Pygmies, whom he seems to see through all-too-Western eyes.
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)