An absolute tour de force and a must-read for any aspiring artist.




A Canadian jade sculptor recalls his life and work in this remarkable memoir by Sopel (Sopel: Alluring Presence, 2012).

There is a perceived esotericism surrounding the art of sculpture, particularly when it comes to gemstones. How did the sculptor go about acquiring the precious material? How did the artist “see” the finished work in the mother rock? In this memoir, Sopel, whose work is owned by the Aga Khan and the Duke and Duchess of Westminster, among others, explains his artistic practice and the journey that led him to become a world-class artist. The memoir opens at high octane, recalling the moment when Sopel jumped from a helicopter into a remote location in British Columbia. After discovering the jade mine he was searching for, he was immediately confronted by its owner and his shotgun. Attitudes changed when he revealed his identity as a jade sculptor from Vancouver. This dramatic opening sets the effervescent, enthralling tone for the memoir, which examines Sopel’s early life and a battle with dyslexia, his gravitation toward artistic practices, his time in art school, and the events that motivated him to progress from being an artist sold in high-end tourist shops to one sold in very high-end galleries. This is a richly textured account—Sopel explored Europe as a young man and also traveled to Asia following his success. Moreover, this is a wonderfully forthright examination of what it means to be an artist. Sopel succinctly describes his connection with his work, in this instance, his sculpture of a Buddha: “You know how it is when you first fall in love? How it’s utter joy just to see that person, just to be with them? They don’t have to do anything; they don’t have to be anything other than what they are. You just feel that love for them.” It must also be noted that working on the Buddha almost killed him. Sopel’s dedication to his art is palpable, and his direct, no-nonsense approach to writing proves inspirational: “Being an artist isn’t an excuse for being poor, or laid back, or stoned. Being an artist is never an excuse for anything. An artist makes art. Period.” Written with the transparent desire to encourage others to “celebrate their own nonverbal strengths,” this is surely one of the most motivating, surprising, and utterly endearing memoirs written by a contemporary artist.

An absolute tour de force and a must-read for any aspiring artist.

Pub Date: April 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-989161-00-5

Page Count: 231

Publisher: Hasmark Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?