THE FACTORY OF FACTS

The elegance, originality, and humor of Sante's new book provide a deeply satisfying reading experience. When he was a young child, Sante (Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York, 1991, etc.) and his Belgian parents immigrated to the US, settling in New Jersey. Not quite American and not quite Belgian, Sante was more of ``an international co-production.'' Belgian culture, while at the center of his family life, was inherited in fragments. The Factory of Facts is Sante's strikingly original attempt to make sense of these fragments—of himself, his family, and his native country. The 15 chapters don't follow a linear progression, but rather bear Sante's characteristic stamp of a roving and all-embracing curiosity. Fortunately, he has the stylistic genius and temperament to make a cohesive whole of his wide-ranging discourses on everything from Belgian labor history to America in the 1960s. This volume is the very embodiment of Sante's definition of the past as ``a notional construct, a hypothesis, a poem.'' Sante is less interested in his life in the US than in his half-remembered early childhood in Belgium. The bulk of his memoir is a running commentary on the Sante family, his native city of Verviers and its collapsed textile industry, and, above all, the particularities of Belgian culture. Verviers looms large in his reconstruction and plays the role of a character in his past; when Sante writes that he can feel the city in his bones, the reader shares his sensation. Likewise, the stubborn independence, the contradictions (linguistic and other), and the accidental nature and ambiguity of Belgium itself, all drawn with immense acumen and humor, are like Sante himself. Still, he retains an ironic distance from the past that enables him to maintain a self-conscious affection for less dispiriting times than the present. Beyond its Belgian grayness and fascinating specificity, Sante's shrewd and lyrical treatise on the past speaks to us all.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-42410-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1997

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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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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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