In this debut memoir presented as a short story cycle, a woman looks back on her life and how she found moments of grace amid many trials.
These linked tales begin with an unnamed heroine, called “she” or “the girl,” who grew up during World War II. She became childhood friends with “laughing, teasing, blue-eyed Johnny,” a neighbor boy who pulled her braids but also shared special moments like catching pollywogs. As the stories continue, increasingly in first-person narration, the protagonist (her name is eventually revealed as Marian) attended school, loved reading books, cheered the high school football team, worked and saved money, and, at age 18, married John in 1952. The young couple moved several times from state to state (Florida was a disaster), but they settled in New York, sometimes changing houses. Marian and John had four children and mostly a good marriage, but illnesses both mental and physical struck the people she loved. John had a psychotic break; one daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and committed suicide; another struggled badly with Type I diabetes and endured a pancreas transplant. Marian, at first forced into it for economic reasons, came to find satisfaction in employment, gaining promotions as her skills improved. After an affair, Marian divorced John and married Sam, but in time he developed Alzheimer’s disease, his death shattering her. In her book, Rogers clads her beginning chapters in an idyllic haze seemingly constructed from Saturday Evening Post covers and the romanticizing in midcentury women’s magazine fiction. But the narrator also admits that, as an older woman now, “she wants a happy beginning to a story that ended so sorrowfully,” helping to explain this section’s overly slick and sentimental feel. In the strongest chapters, Rogers unflinchingly explores the exhausting toil and mental misery of caring for sick loved ones. And, though overly repetitive when read as a whole, this part is the best way to appreciate the narrator’s emotional and artistic growth. In re-creating the past, she realized “the only possible happy ending for a story such as this: my reconstructed heart.”
An account that eloquently shows the author’s resilience through heartbreaks.
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)
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").