IMAGINED PLACES

JOURNEYS INTO LITERARY AMERICA

Pearson (English and Journalism/Old Dominion Univ.) recounts, in a series of charming informal essays, his experiences visiting six places with literary associations—Frost's Vermont, Faulkner's Mississippi, Flannery O'Connor's Georgia, Hemingway's Key West, Steinbeck's California, and Twain's Missouri. Although each chapter includes a biography of the author and a history of the place, all carefully researched with familiar citations, this is neither a literary nor a travel book, for the emphasis falls on the unexpected people and experiences Pearson found as he went in search of his literary prototypes. In Vermont, he finds TV producer Norman Lear living on Frost's farm, and in a village near Manchester, Barbara Comfort, artist, mystery writer, and inventor of, among other things, an edible toothpick. In Mississippi, Pearson comes across Mahatma Gandhi's grandson, and while few remember O'Connor in Milledgeville, Georgia, Pearson learns a lot about the serial murders there that became the subject of Pete Dexter's Paris Trout. In Hemingway's Key West he finds ``Papa's'' old sparring and drinking partners, businessmen thriving on the real-estate market, and a lady who prospers from designing silk pajamas for Bill Cosby. Salinas, California, is still Steinbeck country, home to Steinbeck's laborers, landscape, and a restaurant where ``each waitress could pass for Steinbeck's mother.'' Perhaps the only place that should have been left in Pearson's dreams is Hannibal, where he took his two young sons to discover a shabby, depressed area surviving on tourists. Clemens Field, a recreation spot, retains the walls and barbed wire from when it was a camp for German POWs. Pearson's descriptions and interviews are first-rate, but his literary allusions are often strained (in part because many of the places are not important in the literature), as is, occasionally, his writing: ``the sunshine is as thick as melted butter.'' Still, a pleasant read, full of rich anecdote and detail. (Thirty b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1991

ISBN: 0-87805-526-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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