Other hyphenated Americans who have experienced discrimination and confusion about their heritage will find this often funny...

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WERE YOU ALWAYS AN ITALIAN?

ANCESTORS AND OTHER ICONS OF LIFE IN ITALIAN AMERICA

Three generations in America doesn’t necessarily take the sting out of being an immigrant, as described in this appealing and sometimes thought-provoking memoir that moves from suburban New Jersey to Italy’s southern provinces.

The title question was posed by former New York governor Mario Cuomo as journalist Laurino was interviewing him on his own roots. Laurino’s honest answer was no, as she recalls her adolescent efforts to distance herself from her Italian heritage. They began in earnest when a classmate characterized her as “the smelly Italian girl”: assured by friends that she did not have an odor, Laurino nevertheless began to understand that, despite her wardrobe from Saks, her darker skin and the vowels at the end of her name put her on a lower rung of the social ladder than the WASPs or JAPs who were the popular cliques at her high school. Broadening her perspective, Laurino examines the stereotyping of Italian-Americans via Mafia movies and a visit to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst (where gold-chained “guidos” and big-haired “guidettes” mark one very visible end of Italian-American rankings). Laurino blends personal experience and academic research in examining class bigotries not only in America, but also in Rome and Milan (where she found the northern Italian contempt for southern Italians as powerful as the prejudice against African-Americans in the US). When she and her husband finally visit what is left of the family in southern Italy (on the ankle of the boot), she finds them poor, hardworking, and closely knit, as they were when her grandparents sailed for America. Their habits and concerns resemble those of Laurino’s mother (in her work rituals, for example, or in her inclination to hoard any luxury), leading the author to speculate that her own tendency to hoard “may have been born in the fields of abject poverty.”

Other hyphenated Americans who have experienced discrimination and confusion about their heritage will find this often funny and graceful book simpatico.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-393-04930-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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