In his debut memoir, a writer takes readers on a trip through his family’s troubled past, determined to find closure and forgive his dysfunctional parents for the hurt inflicted on him and his siblings.
Boudreau was born in 1956 in Boston, the third of eight kids, all of whom still bear psychological scars from a poverty-stricken, abusive childhood. He begins his story near the end. He and his wife were buying food and supplies for his 81-year old, twice widowed mother, Gert. By this time, only Boudreau and two of his siblings would have anything to do with “Ma.” He entered Gert’s house in Readville (a neighborhood in Boston) and painful, angry memories of a childhood marked by instability and neglect came flooding back: “By the time I reached my eighteenth birthday and enlisted in the air force, we’d easily moved more than seventy-five times,” always leaving in their wake a stack of unpaid bills. The visit serves as a fulcrum for Boudreau’s narrative, which vacillates between past and present as he reviews his life and family relationships. According to the author, his father, George, was “unpredictable, violent, and abusive” while his mother always assumed a posture of helplessness, standing by passively while her husband inflicted his beatings on one child or another. She attempted “to infect us all with her neuroses,” the author recalls. At 15, after a verbal and physical confrontation with his father, Boudreau permanently left home, moving into a Boston commune to live with his older sister, Diane. Plenty of justifiable rage flows from these pages, although it is packaged in articulate prose and wrapped in psychological theory. Some passages describing the author’s parents are very personal and a bit uncomfortable to read. Of his father, he writes: “He always took his full upper and lower dentures out the minute he came home…. He’d wrap them in the snot-filled handkerchief he always kept stuffed in his back pocket.” In this candid and moving book, readers will feel the constant battle between Boudreau’s training in community social psychology and his ever-present baggage of having been raised by emotionally damaged parents.
A brutally honest, engaging account that’s revealing, disturbing, and quite poignant.
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)