Articulate, keen and satisfying.

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BREATHLESS

AN AMERICAN GIRL IN PARIS

A coming-of-age tale covering the author's 20s in Paris, where she studied, worked, lived on her own for the first time, fell in and out of love, and found solid ground beneath her feet.

Miller (English and Comparative Literature/Graduate Center, CUNY; What They Saved: Pieces of a Jewish Past, 2011, etc.) has previously mined her past in memoirs about herself and the lives of her parents. This book takes its name from the Godard film, which inspired the author, upon graduating from Barnard College in 1961, to move to Paris at 21. While studying at the Sorbonne, Miller sought freedom from her parents’ incessant meddling and attempted to swap her "nice-Jewish-girl" identity for a life of sophistication and romance. She writes of her transformation from wide-eyed naif ("I didn't set out to sleep with Philippe") to a confident, individualized woman capable of making her own decisions—about whom to date, where to live and work, and the direction of her future. Repeatedly, she revisits her perceived lack of self-understanding and the myriad experiences that informed her self-awareness and capacity to recognize and give voice to her own desires. Miller's first year in France truly represented a necessary break from the lifelong pressures of "les parents terribles,” and it was followed by more space after she received a Fulbright teaching fellowship, enabling her to stay longer. After a couple years, Miller met and eloped with an older American expat who ran a language school. The book's final half is dominated by the marriage's highs and lows, the latter of which contributed even more fully to Miller's break from controlling influences and resulted in her trusting her own judgment. Originally in search of salvation from her family, Miller found the external adventures she'd craved and painful ones she hadn't anticipated, and she went through a deeply personal transformation.

Articulate, keen and satisfying.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58005-488-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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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