A meandering, thought-provoking series of essays that will appeal to memoir and social-history fans.

ALMOST A FOREIGN COUNTRY

A collection of columns reflecting love, life and old age.

As a college professor and columnist, Wolf enjoys expounding on his ideas. It doesn’t really matter if those ideas are trite or if the stories that explore them are a tad mundane–the author believes he’s providing readers with valuable insight. He succeeds intermittently, but he always provokes some curiosity about how he developed his opinions. For instance, Wolf believes sexual indiscretion should be mandatory and that concealing faults in a relationship protects feelings from getting hurt. Although he briefly discusses a few of his relationships, his thesis stirs questions about those arrangements. The book is arranged in sections that also touch on sadness, perception, conversation and immigrant stories, among other topics. The author’s columns were regularly published in newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury and the Daily Californian, as well as Dutch and Finnish publications. All the columns are brief, ranging from two to three pages in length, and Wolf’s wizened, cynical voice is consistent throughout. The book’s title refers to the predicament that elders often discover as they age–that the world is the same yet changed, taking on the strangeness of a foreign country. It’s with his tales of foreign experiences and observances that Wolf shines. From discussing the quiet success of Muslim women in Western Europe, to the fact that drug dealers are allowed to deduct firearms and pit bulls as business expenses in the Netherlands, the author engages readers with interesting points. He also offers the interesting perspective of an immigrant who has absorbed a large part of American culture but questions the rest. As a whole, Wolf has supplied an uneven yet worthwhile read.

A meandering, thought-provoking series of essays that will appeal to memoir and social-history fans.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-595-52423-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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