Largely apocryphal and hardly scholarly, but a lot of fun.

BOBBED HAIR AND BATHTUB GIN

WRITERS RUNNING WILD IN THE TWENTIES

A snappy, anecdotal tale of the writerly Jazz Age ladies—Fitzgerald, Millay, Parker, and Ferber—and the men who adored them.

Hard to believe there's anything new to learn about the celebrated writers in the tap-happy ’20s, but veteran celebrity biographer Meade (The Unruly Life of Woody Allen, 2000, etc.), her eye ever on the swinging detail, manages to scrounge a fresh tidbit as she traces the erratic intersection of her characters from year to year over the decade. Dorothy “Dottie” Parker is her favorite protagonist, fired from her job at Vanity Fair at age 26 in 1920 to embark on a celebrated, albeit hard-won trajectory as critic, short-story writer, and, eventually, novelist, as she struggles personally over the years with her first disintegrating marriage, alcoholism, and tendency toward suicidal depression. Edna St. Vincent Millay, called “Vincent” throughout, takes no prisoners in her amatory swath of Greenwich Village, where she conquers Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, among others, while trying to create a writer's life away from her two meddling sisters and mother. By 1923, Vincent has won the Pulitzer (still rare for a woman) for her Ballad of the Harp-Weaver, and eventually switches gears to settle down in the Berkshires with her Dutch businessman husband. Alabama belle Zelda Sayre, meanwhile, marries Scott Fitzgerald at age 19 in St. Patrick's Cathedral, intent on a wild public spectacle of flapperhood with the publication of This Side of Paradise. Meade's Zelda, however, is no shrinking violet: a muse to her husband (who regularly appropriates her diary entries and ideas), she develops discipline and ambition in ballet and story-writing to supplement the family income. Meanwhile, Edna Ferber, who, like Parker, is a favorite of the Algonquin Round Table, appears all too sketchily here, as the towering proto-feminist, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter who did it all on her own—a marvelous study of brains, ambition, and hobnobbing. Overall, Meade supplies plenty of unsavory superfluity among the well-worn facts (abortions, sad marriages, boozy cutups), and even some recipes for Prohibition cocktails.

Largely apocryphal and hardly scholarly, but a lot of fun.

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-385-50242-7

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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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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