Literate, perspicacious, and thoroughly entertaining.




A sharp, witty collection from the prolific writer of fiction, memoir, and acerbic essays.

In his latest work of nonfiction, Amis (The Zone of Interest, 2014, etc.) gathers an enticing miscellany of short pieces—reportage, political and cultural commentary, book reviews, and personal reflections—published during the past 30 years, amended with occasional footnotes and postscripts and, writes the author, given “a great deal of polishing.” In an affectionate piece on The King’s English, his father’s last book, on language and usage, Amis quotes a reviewer who admired the “tense, sly quality” of Kingsley Amis’ prose. Certainly that slyness and linguistic precision has been inherited by Amis fils, whether he is praising the “invigorating intelligence” of Jane Austen or skewering the bumbling Rick Perry, recalling debonair Saul Bellow or denigrating narcissistic Donald Trump. Describing himself as “pallidly left-of-center,” Amis reported on the Republican Party for Newsweek in 2011 and 2012 (calling Romney “an astoundingly proficient technocrat”). In 2016, he weighed in on Trump’s ascension for Harper’s, deeming his campaign manifesto, Crippled America, “emotionally primitive and intellectually barbaric”; and Trump himself, “insecurity incarnate” and, like the majority of Republicans, “a xenophobe and proud of it.” Trump’s “idiolect,” writes the author, would serve as “an adventure playground for any proscriptive linguist.” Among essays on writers, Amis warmly remembers the brilliant, eccentric Iris Murdoch, “the preeminent female English novelist of her generation,” and poet Philip Larkin, “more than memorable. He is instantly unforgettable.” Amis also offers a tender eulogy for Princess Diana, whose death, he writes, felt “so savage.” Diana had a particular talent “for love. She felt that she could inspire it, transmit it, increase its general sum,” and she both humanized and, finally, cracked the veneer of the monarchy. John Travolta, Philip Roth, Christopher Hitchens, and Jeremy Corbyn all come under Amis’ sharp-eyed gaze. Several essays are disarmingly autobiographical; a few pieces compile brief, and sometimes-snarky, replies to readers’ questions.

Literate, perspicacious, and thoroughly entertaining.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4000-4453-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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