THE SHADOW MAN

In this searing memoir, Gordon, noted as a novelist of Catholic lives in America, searches for the truth about her late father—a Jew who converted to Catholicism. Gordon's is an interior journey as well as an external one as she seeks to figuratively disinter her father and resurrect him. She has always been in thrall to the passionate love her father, who died when she was seven, had borne her (he ``was the source of my knowledge that I have been loved unto death''). Gordon brilliantly and ruthlessly anatomizes the blindnesses we allow, the little lies we tell ourselves, so that as children we can idealize, and idolize, our parents. As she enters the realm of memory, she realizes that the father she visualizes as handsome in fact had a mouth bereft of teeth and wore ripped pants to accommodate his growing paunch. When Gordon finally allows herself to look at the truth about her father, David Gordon, the upheaval is doubly wrenching: Not only had she lied to herself, but virtually everything he had told her about himself was a lie, from the year of his birth to his relations with his family. Even worse, she must confront the ugliness of his virulent anti-Semitism. It is fascinating to see this Catholic-raised woman confront her Jewish legacy, one that had previously been entirely negative: Whenever she did something bad, her mother would say, ``That's the Jew in you.'' Her sense of alienation becomes total: ``He has become someone with whom I can feel no connection. And if I am not connected with him, who am I?'' So dense with anguish is Gordon's writing that her emotion rises from the page to engulf the reader. She is like a lost child racing around frantically to find the father she once knew, the man who gave her comfort, who gave her a sense of herself and her place in the world. Beautiful, painful, shocking, a profound exploration of love, memory, shame, recuperation—a remarkable work. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42885-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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