Drawing from his blog posts, a father recounts the life-changing battle waged against his young son’s leukemia.
In 2009, Simkins’ middle son, Brennan, had just turned 7 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia that required a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy. Sadly, while it at first seemed that the cancer was in remission afterBrennan underwent treatment in a hospital near the family’s Georgia home, the cancer crept back. Medical professionals told Simkins and his wife that further treatment would be risky, and they should prepare for their child’s death. Instead, the family relocated to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, where Brennan ended up receiving a record four stem cell transplants. Simkins began to blog soon after Brennan’s diagnosis; this memoir is an adaptation of those chronologically dated entries. He details his son’s fight against cancer and an array of distressing setbacks, which included the emergence of a brain cyst and Brennan being put into a medical coma, as well as how the Band of Brothers story became a resonating metaphor for the family. Simkins also details relationships forged with pediatric cancer patients, their parents, doctors, and most significantly, his own fluctuating moods of faith and despair. By 2012, the family was finally back at home, with Brennan now stable in fourth remission, with Simkins realizing the experience had also unleashed “the capacity to awaken, to seek, and truly experience life.” Simkins, who spent time as a newspaper reporter and now runs an advertising firm, offers an intensely honest account of the horrors and hope that face a parent whose child has cancer. His narrative is a testament to the importance of seeking out additional medical opinions while harnessing the power of family and prayer. Simkins admits in his foreword that his account may be too downbeat and overly detailed, but his memoir is nevertheless an absorbing, suspenseful read, complete with a heartbreaking dramatic crescendo as Brennan recovers but others do not.
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").
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)