A warmly funny, wide-ranging, and off-kilter spiritual odyssey.

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The Buddha Made Me Do It

A FIELD GUIDE TO ENLITENMENT

An antic memoir about a woman exploring the byways of New Age spiritualism.

The long string of problems and bizarre encounters in Martenson’s (Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, 2014) autobiography begins when, while clearing her Los Angeles house of “SICLW” (or “Shit I Can Live Without”), she made the impulsive decision to throw out a small Buddha statue treasured by her husband, Adolfo. The housecleaning was part of a spiritual journey she was taking with her friend Julie and held special appeal to Martenson as a kind of psychic counterweight to her job as a “successful, well-known, high-end matchmaker for affluent men.” Her quest met with steady resistance from her husband, who succinctly urged her to lay off the New Age stuff, but it also got an enormous energy boost from her visits to a place called the “Imagine Center”; there, she met a teacher known as “Goddess Tauheedah,” who tutored Martenson and Julie in the ways of the mystical world. Along the way (and accompanied most of the time by Adolfo’s irascible skepticism), the author digresses on dozens of side topics, from adventures in astral projection to the idea of a lurking order of Reptilians bent on world domination. The book has some serious didactic aims about spirituality and detoxification: “Though not all psychics and mediums are vegan or even vegetarian, for me, it is a package deal,” she writes at one point, “It’s about consciousness.” There’s even an appendix with wholesome recipes. However, its main attractions are very much grounded in Martenson’s zany everyday life and her unfailing, infectious happiness in describing it. As a result, her stories will make readers laugh, regardless of where they stand with the Buddha.

A warmly funny, wide-ranging, and off-kilter spiritual odyssey.

Pub Date: May 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975664-0-6

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Cupid's Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2016

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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