Vivid and informative—a must for anyone interested in 20th-century American publishing and culture.

ROSSET

MY LIFE IN PUBLISHING AND HOW I FOUGHT CENSORSHIP

A posthumous memoir nicely captures the Grove Press publisher’s free-wheeling ways and rebel heart.

Presented by the Rosset estate with a memoir that had been “pruned to death,” OR Books founder John Oakes, who worked at Grove in the 1980s, went back to the archives and added material that better represented the boss he describes as “either brooding, laughing, or raging.” That charismatic man practically leaps off the pages of these salty reminiscences, which begin with a tribute by Rosset to his gamekeeper-assassinating Irish great-grandfather and the assertion, “Rebellion runs in my family’s blood.” Young Barney’s radical tendencies were evident even before he wrote a paper on Henry Miller’s then-banned novel, Tropic of Cancer, at Swarthmore College in 1940. (He got a B-minus.) Tropic of Capricorn was one of several books, most famously Lady Chatterley’s Lover, that the maverick Rosset published and defended in court to challenge outmoded obscenity statutes still on the books in the 1950s. The resulting Supreme Court decisions opened the door to a more adult American culture, and Grove Press was at the forefront of putting it into print—and on film, with I Am Curious (Yellow), a 1967 Swedish movie that in Rosset’s assessment hardly deserved its scandalous reputation but certainly provided an income that supported Grove’s more literary and less lucrative offerings. Rosset’s commitment to keep his authors’ complete works in print meant that the profits from steady sellers like Waiting for Godot often got swallowed up by the costs of publishing Samuel Beckett’s fiction, for example. The court costs of the censorship cases kept Grove’s finances shaky and ultimately led to Rosset’s ill-advised sale of the company to British magnate George Weidenfeld and American heiress Ann Getty in 1985. Characteristically, Rosset follows up an acid depiction of his subsequent ouster with a tribute to Grove’s “Other Nobelist” (after Beckett), Kenzaburo Oe; for this fiery idealist, it was always about the writers.

Vivid and informative—a must for anyone interested in 20th-century American publishing and culture.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68219-044-9

Page Count: 370

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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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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