As these passionate essays attest, Hofmann cares deeply: about writing, art and the creative possibilities of criticism.

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WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

SELECTED ESSAYS

A noted critic celebrates the arts.

In this vibrant collection of previously published essays, poet, critic and translator Hofmann (Poetry and Translation/Univ. of Florida; Selected Poems, 2009, etc.) elevates criticism to an art. He amply fulfills his aim to “investigate and animate” his subjects, “make them resonate, play with and in and over them….” Many of those subjects are poets, including Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Basil Bunting and John Berryman. But Hofmann also extends his “noticings” to painter Max Beckmann, writer and artist Kurt Schwitters, and Austrian playwrights Arthur Schnitzler and Thomas Bernhard. He considers Günter Grass’ belated admission of SS membership (“The horrible suspicion arises that Grass’ deepest project here is the destruction of meaning. Not so much ‘peeling the onion’ as ‘applying the whitewash’ ”). Hofmann also reflects on Antonioni’s movie The Passenger, “a mystery or a mystification” that he found especially powerful. Among the most luminous essays are those responding to poets and their work. The Bishop-Lowell correspondence, writes Hofmann, reads like “an epistolary novel” that reveals “an ideally balanced, ideally complex account of a friendship, a race, a decades-long conspiracy, a dance (say, a tango?).” Bishop emerges as the more sympathetic of the two, offering “arresting and beautiful observations” and genuine interest in her friend; Lowell, on the other hand, “seems to endow even people quite close to him…with very little reality.” An admiring essay on Bishop notes her reticence to engage in the confessional poetry in which Lowell indulged, but an equally admiring essay on Lowell calls him “heroic.” “To say that anyone who cares about poetry should read Lowell is not enough….Anyone who cares about writing, or about art, or about life, should read Lowell.”

As these passionate essays attest, Hofmann cares deeply: about writing, art and the creative possibilities of criticism.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0374259969

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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