On bright display are Kundera’s vast reading, his passion for his art and his disdain for the ordinary.

THE CURTAIN

AN ESSAY IN SEVEN PARTS

A celebrated Franco-Czech novelist considers the history of the novel and worries about its future.

Kundera (Ignorance, 2002, etc.) begins by observing that there were no novels until stories began to have aesthetic value. One of the novel’s principal functions, he claims, is to explore the prose of life. “All we can do in the face of that ineluctable defeat called life is to try to understand it,” he writes. Kundera repeatedly considers literary history, and he shows how the past has influenced the present. Don Quixote, Tom Jones, Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, The Trial, Ulysses—these and other celebrated works are mined throughout for their explanatory and illustrative riches. Kundera believes that readers of literature must be readers of comparative literature: to read only those works that mirror your own culture and language is to intentionally blind yourself. Kundera alludes to novels and novelists from all over the word (though most are European men). He explains the title of his book in its fourth section: Novelists must devote themselves to “tearing the curtain of preinterpretation.” This section also features something of a rant against pop fiction; Kundera labels “contemptible” those writers who create repetitive fictions that deal with the ephemeral. In later sections, he offers some insights on the pervasiveness of human stupidity and bureaucracy, and he ends with eloquent passages about our separation from the past—how forgetting and memory, which transforms rather than records, make more difficult the novelist’s task.

On bright display are Kundera’s vast reading, his passion for his art and his disdain for the ordinary.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-084186-9

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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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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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

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