Steering clear of propaganda, Gorkin (Border Kibbutz, 1971), an American psychologist living in Jerusalem, presents a refreshingly balanced portrait of a Palestinian family in Israel. Feeling ill-equipped to serve his Arab patients at Hebrew Univ., the author spent two years in unusually close contact with a fellaheen (peasant farmer) family—working with them, sharing their celebrations and sorrows, and preserving their testimony in simple, nonjudgmental tones. Like the other 700,000 Palestinians in Israel, the family of Abu Ahmad must deal daily with the paradox of being Israeli citizens yet detached, legally and socially, from the larger workings of the country. Viewed as Arabs by Israelis and as Israelis by other Arabs, ``we have reason to be afraid,'' remarks one. Although Gorkin provides helpful commentary on the confusing revolutions of Middle Eastern politics, he is strongest when allowing his subjects to speak in their own words. These are fully rounded, independent characters who dream of a Palestinian state but dislike militant fundamentalists; who form business relationships with Jewish Israelis yet sympathize with the Intifada. Most startlingly, they manage to combine old and new in odd, apparently peaceful juxtaposition: live sheep purchased for slaughter to mark the end of Ramadan are stuffed into the trunk of a Mercedes; a 70-year-old patriarch relaxes in the traditional diwan (men's sitting room) as his children watch R-rated American videotapes in the next room; free to pursue higher education and their own careers (publisher, social worker, teacher, farmer), children (both male and female) avoid physical relations with suitors and consent to traditional marriage arrangements. Widening the picture are other village voices—a Communist teacher, a Muslim-Jewish couple, Intifada activists. Ordinary people made heroic by their insistence on surviving despite extraordinary challenges, they are complex, multifaceted, and real. A subtly persuasive work, proving that straightforward, unbiased reporting can be far more powerful than monolithic pronouncements. Excellent and unusual.
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)
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").