Just about as ephemeral as a Trump’s noxious emissions.

READ REVIEW

A CHILD'S FIRST BOOK OF TRUMP

Like an orange potato with arms, legs, and windblown blond hair—and, of course, a big mouth—Americus trumpus is explicated for a putative child audience.

Like Go the Fuck to Sleep before it, this is no “child’s first book,” despite the format. Yes, it rhymes, and yes, it has pictures, but this is full-on political satire that’s about as subtle as, well, its subject. Black (Navel Gazing, 2016, etc.) adopts Seussian rhythms to describe “this strange beast you keep hearing about,” while Rosenthal likewise emulates the good doctor’s palette and line. “The beasty is called an American Trump. / Its skin is bright orange, its figure is plump; / Its fur so complex, you might get enveloped. / Its hands are, sadly, underdeveloped.” Here the white-coated professorial narrator points to a labeled diagram. And so the book goes, plucking almost every possible piece of low-hanging fruit. A Trump loves cameras; it eats cash. “I’ve won each and every game that I’ve played,” it declares, clutching an Oscar statuette, a taco-eating trophy, and a first-grade attendance trophy. There are debate victories and the wall, paid for “using another’s dinero.” Rather oddly, the book counsels readers to defeat the Trump not by going to the polls (or encouraging their parents to) but by turning off the TV, for “ignoring a Trump is a Trump’s biggest fear.” There are certainly chuckles to be had in this book for readers of the blue persuasion, and it’s probably no coincidence that Rosenthal depicts most humans as various shades of blue. Except for the wall, however, Trump's racism is entirely absent, and none of those blue figures, even those seeking refuge at the Canadian border at book's end, is wearing a headscarf or otherwise obviously Muslim. In the end, this is something of a one-joke pony that can’t compare to its inspiration’s seemingly endless capacity for self-parody and doesn't go nearly as far as it could or he does.

Just about as ephemeral as a Trump’s noxious emissions.

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8800-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2016

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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