Sometimes amusing, sometimes uneven, this book should appeal to Chicago readers.

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SEVENTY-SEVEN COLUMNS

A COLLECTION OF MUSINGS FROM THE PAGES OF NORTH SHORE WEEKEND AND THE DAILY NORTH SHORE

These collected short pieces comment on Chicago’s North Shore, modern life, and other matters.

From 2015 through 2016, Lubow (Time Pieces: An Informal Memoir, 2016, etc.), a former ad agency creative director, wrote a column, “North Shorts,” for North Shore Weekend, a weekly paper covering Chicago’s northern suburbs. (It also ran on the Daily North Shore website.) Each piece is deliberately short to match today’s brief attention spans, providing “some observation or snippet of light news.” Lubow often begins by noting some particularity of North Shore life, which he expands to more general observations. For example, in “Back to the future,” the author evokes “a time when people on the North Shore saw movies at The Edens.” That theater closed in 1994 to make way for cineplexes, which are now being replaced by posh theaters with pre-assigned seats that offer more luxury but less freedom. Musing that “you can’t go back to the future,” Lubow remembers seeing the movie Back to the Future—at The Edens. This note of lightly ironic nostalgia characterizes many of the pieces. On occasion, the author makes intriguing associations, as with a Bruce Springsteen quote that launches a discussion of creativity and audience (“The connection”). But the short format precludes much thoughtfulness, and too often Lubow cuts off, sentimentalizes, or makes glib what might deserve a deeper exploration. For example, in “Siren song,” he writes about the arrival of urban coyotes and other wild animals, which he takes as a sign that the “wild west isn’t always west, but it’s always wild.” But these animals’ appearance in urban areas isn’t a sign that their populations are rebounding, wild and free; it’s an indication of habitat loss. Some columns offer conclusions so mild that they hardly seem worth noting: it’s good to reread favorite books; old memories can be incomplete; people have different opinions. While Chicagoland readers can enjoy Lubow’s hat tips to local sights and characters, the book offers fewer charms for outsiders, especially because the columns can still be read for free on the Daily North Shore website (jwcdaily.com).

Sometimes amusing, sometimes uneven, this book should appeal to Chicago readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-982057-76-3

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Birdwatcher Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 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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