For Casey, the search is the thing, whether as a writer or reader. This slim but astute volume is an inducement both to read...

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THE ART OF MYSTERY

THE SEARCH FOR QUESTIONS

Not whodunit, but why and how it works.

Ask a professional how great fiction is created, and you will usually receive an answer about the importance of a good plot, descriptive language, and writing “what you know about.” Casey (English/Univ. of Maryland; The Man Who Walked Away, 2014, etc.) goes for something deeper: how do great writers create that alluring kind of bewilderment that makes literary fiction unique? “Mystery in fiction,” she writes, “means taking the reader to that land of Un—uncertainty, unfathomability, unknowing. It’s Kafka’s axe to the frozen seas of our souls. In other words, it will—and it should—mess you up.” Using a variety of compelling examples, the author shows the myriad ways mystery can seduce and conquer. Writers like Isaac Babel create a structure of innocence where readers, along with his young protagonists, reach an epiphany. Mystery can make characters come alive as we learn a character’s secrets; perhaps even more so when we don’t. As the writer Paul Yoon tells Casey, just knowing that one of his characters has an undisclosed secret may be a way of knowing him “more deeply, having caught a glimpse into something so very private.” Mystery can also pull us deep into the lives of terrible people—e.g., the protagonist of J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians—or ones, such as Merricat in Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in a Castle, whom we’d best avoid. These writers know how to normalize the most brutal or absurd private worlds. There is also imagery—whether it’s poor Hulga’s wooden leg in Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” or the multiplicity of windows in James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues”—that can transform the very environment of the story itself.

For Casey, the search is the thing, whether as a writer or reader. This slim but astute volume is an inducement both to read more deeply and to head for ever more unchartered, frozen, mysterious waters.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55597-794-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

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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