An unremarkable gathering of fiction, poetry, and essays by writers who have involved themselves over the years with the National Undergraduate Literature Conference held at Weber State University in Utah, where the editors teach. Many of the writers here (e.g., Ann Beattie, E.L. Doctorow, Carolyn Forche) are widely anthologized elsewhere. And lacking a strong thematic focus, this collection can't seem to find its own identity, although a handful of pieces do consider reading and writing as a topic. In Ray Bradbury's pleasantly manic story, a small-town boy meets up with an exotic out-of-town adult who claims to be Charles Dickens but is really a failed writer. The boy's admiration for the Dickens impersonator offers a parable as well as a fantasy—the enthusiastic reader as the best possible crony for any author, whether faux or bona fide. George Garrett's essay is another standout: He crisply tells the tale of his father's right- minded revenge on the bigoted southern burg where he practiced law. ``This is a true story about my father, a true story with the shape of a piece of fiction. Well, why not?'' begins Garrett. ``The purpose of fiction is simply to tell the truth.'' Richard Ford's reminiscence about his early struggles to be published cheerfully dismisses conventional career wisdom about how to enter the literary ranks. Ford's bemusement with bromides leads to a realism that's appealing and convincing. Too many writers, though, don't contribute their best work to the volume. The poems by Garrett, Howard McCord, and Catherine Bowman are unextraordinary, and Doctorow's brief essay about his boyhood discovery of reading is emphatically minor. John Barth's ``Excerpt From the Tidewater Tales'' is a coy, tirelessly self-conscious flirtation with fiction as a genre. Only a small number of pieces included have not been published previously. Mainly, this is a souvenir program for a creative writing symposium.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-87905-794-7

Page Count: 344

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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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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