Approached as a salvage operation, there are numerous worthy features in this book, but there are too many gaps in planking...

READ REVIEW

WOODEN BOATS

IN PURSUIT OF THE PERFECT CRAFT AT AN AMERICAN BOATYARD

Ruhlman's (The Soul of a Chef, not reviewed) promising story of attending the construction of two sublime wooden boats falls short in so many areas that it feels woefully out of plumb.

Ruhlman has all the ingredients for a great tale: an ancient and honored craft perpetuated by a company of rascally artisans, a slew of absorbing satellite stories to broaden and deepen the character of both boats and boat-builders, and a construction process that has an intuitive, organic sense to it. The Martha's Vineyard boatyard of Gannon and Benjamin, for whom it is wood or the highway, is the setting for this chronicle of building a 60-foot schooner for an entrepreneur and a 32-foot powerboat for the singer Jonathan Edwards. Much of the spirit of the Gannon and Benjamin shop comes through here—the dedication, the vision. There are generously painted portraits of the boat workers, and there are terrific sections on gathering silverballi and angelique in the Suriname rainforest. But Ruhlman loves the sound of his voice too much, and his imagery charges about unreined: in one breath he tells readers that the victims of being boatstruck show “no easily discernable signs of the illness,” then “you can see it.” Or that artisinal wooden boat building is “a long study of a five-thousand-year-old practice” then an act of the “collective unconscious,” and we're not talking about the play of opposing forces. He also comes up with nonsensical metaphors: “Ross [Gannon] collects heavy antique machinery the way other people collect Faberge eggs”: Does this mean only on rare occasions? But perhaps the weakest part of the book is that Ruhlman is not particularly able in describing woodworking technique. Visualizing the boat-building process is critical to sustaining the book's atmosphere, and it simply never gathers in the mind's eye.

Approached as a salvage operation, there are numerous worthy features in this book, but there are too many gaps in planking for it to float on its own.

Pub Date: May 7, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-88812-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more