A pointed, energetic collection of personal essays.

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STEALING

LIFE IN AMERICA

Debut author Cacho-Negrete identifies the trends in American life that shaped her in this debut collection of personal essays.

“I remain an immigrant, poverty my country of origin.” So writes Cacho-Negrete early in this volume. Raised by an immigrant Jewish mother in Brooklyn during the 1950s and ’60s, the author was a self-described “street kid”—one of a large demographic of latchkey children without much supervision or access to opportunity—who transcended her lot in life via education and a little luck. In the first essay, “Stealing,” the author recounts the two periods of her life when she routinely shoplifted goods from stores: as a street kid to help feed her impoverished family and again as a divorced mother of two who found herself struggling to stay afloat in her tony suburb. In “The Season of My Grandfather” she writes about her interactions with her mother’s estranged father, whom she met as a girl, sent by her mother to pick up payments for an outstanding debt. Not every essay is so dire, however. “Hair” recounts Cacho-Negrete’s struggle to accept her curly hair as a teenager when it did not conform with mainstream conceptions of beauty. “On the Fire Escape” describes how that particular architectural feature, so associated with New York, played a role at various points throughout the author’s life. Cacho-Negrete writes with a sharp, confident prose that evokes her settings with hyperreal clarity: “We lived in tenements that leaned against each other for protection, their plastic-covered windows blind eyes in winter that popped open in spring to spy into each other’s apartments. The hallways stunk from piss, pot, cheap perfume, cigarettes.” The essays serve as a sort of fractured memoir, one that seeks to underline the iniquities inherent to the American experience. Even this political angle, however, is a piece of supporting information that adds to the autobiography. These are the foundational stories of Cacho-Negrete. They explain why she thinks the way she does. Whether or not the reader comes away thinking the same things, this brief residence in the author’s head is illuminating.

A pointed, energetic collection of personal essays.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9995164-1-6

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Adelaide Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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