A useful take on significant writers “in a world that was not eager to hear women’s opinions about anything.”

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SHARP

THE WOMEN WHO MADE AN ART OF HAVING AN OPINION

A debut book about the works of 20th-century women whose lives had a deep impact on culture.

“I gathered the women in this book under the sign of a compliment that every one of them received in their lives: they were called sharp,” writes New Republic contributing editor Dean. At first glance, the premise seems rather elementary. Such a qualifier can’t possibly carry with it the heft of a book’s premise. However, by exploring the different roles that women such as Joan Didion, Hannah Arendt, Renata Adler, Susan Sontag, and Dorothy Parker occupied in the writing world, Dean makes it clear that to be called “sharp” was a steppingstone for their respective careers. All of the women are obviously extremely different: Dorothy Parker was hardly a contemporary of Susan Sontag, nor did they function within the same society. Hannah Arendt was not as progressively irreverent as Renata Adler. However, Dean reveals intriguing connections that link most, if not all, of them together. Each one of these women was involved in one way or another with Condé Nast, an extremely influential publishing group that could make or break writers’ careers. In writing for the New York Review of Books or Vogue, among other publications, they were able to test out their ideas on a captive audience of fiery New Yorkers and sophisticated, fashionable women. As is often the case with geniuses, their writings were not received with open arms; there was push back from an audience used to a male authorial power. Interestingly, however different these women may have been from each other, the author ably explains the ways in which their lives intersected, the conversations they had, and the goals they shared. Unfortunately, Dean often discusses these female authors’ writerly independence in relation to the men that occupied important places in their lives, an odd choice in a book of this nature. Still, the author presents engaging portraits of brilliant minds.

A useful take on significant writers “in a world that was not eager to hear women’s opinions about anything.”

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2509-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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