For any book lover who—despite Kirkus’s best efforts—doesn’t know what to read next, Dirda will provide a lovely and genial...



A delightful compendium of Dirda’s most memorable Washington Post Book World essays revels in seven years’ worth of bibliophilic passion.

Although the 46 “literary entertainments” collected here range widely in topic and in tone (from the nostalgic reminiscences of “The Crime of His Life” to the wry apocalyptic musings of “Millennial Readings”), Dirda’s hearty enthusiasm and good-natured bookishness stands at the forefront of his writing. From pulp fiction to serious literature, children’s books to erotica, ghost stories to classics in translation, Dirda appears to have read more books—and to remember them in awe-inspiring detail—than most libraries contain. Many of the essays contain lists of little-known and forgotten novels with brief synopses of their contents, and these simple gifts leave one breathless with reverence for the man who read, recommended, and loved these countless titles. Dirda’s erudition is obvious throughout, but pedantry is not his goal; he obviously just loves books with a passion as infectious as the Ebola virus. His response to required reading in high school (“Read at Whim!”) and his hilarious suggestions to encourage children to read by forbidding them the classics reveal a man whose tongue may be firmly in his cheek but whose heart and mind never seem to stray from the joys of the printed word. The ornery reader may find a quibble or two to snipe about (Harry Potter is maligned as merely “scary and exciting” in “Tomes for Tots”), but the joy of Dirda’s opinions lies in letting the voice and wit of a true bibliophile into your head.

For any book lover who—despite Kirkus’s best efforts—doesn’t know what to read next, Dirda will provide a lovely and genial guide.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-253-33824-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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