Ross’ debut recounts the gripping life of Holocaust survivor Abe Peck.
Ross met Peck while volunteering at a survivors’ event; the result is a book-length interview. The author supplements Peck’s story with personal material and historical background. Peck’s childhood home, the Polish town of Szadek, was invaded by Nazi forces when he was 14 years old. Over the next six years, Peck survived the ghetto, work camps, and forced marches, finally being liberated by Allied forces at age 20. Though Peck’s survival is in a sense a triumph over the Third Reich, the overall tone here is more mournful than triumphant. Peck is part of the 2.5 percent of Szadek’s Jewish population that survived the Holocaust. He lost 83 of his 89 immediate relatives. Peck himself is quick to state that his survival was as much luck—being a certain number in an SS roll call, for example—as it was persistence. Photographs of lost family members further communicate this sense of immense loss. Peck recalls experiences of grief, grueling labor, illness, starvation, anti-Semitism, and cruelty. After his liberation, he married another survivor, had a son, and built a successful furniture business in the United States. A particularly bittersweet chapter portrays Peck’s return to Szadek to help rededicate the town’s Jewish cemetery. While Ross is an able writer, the real impetus of the book comes from Peck: thoughtful, generous, and a natural storyteller. His quietly devastating account of his adolescence is accompanied by incisive reflection on the ways his experiences shaped his life and sense of self. Ross is clearly a good interviewer, although she sometimes intrudes. She describes the death of Abe’s father, for example, as “heart-wrenching”; of course it was, but such interjections are a distraction. Still, the book is an affecting and effective portrait.
An elegiac, bittersweet, and well-told account of a remarkable man’s life.
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").
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)