Other works may examine traditions with more scholarly zeal; this Charles Kuralt-vignette approach has its own charm.



The idea of cookery as vanishing folk heritage has brought some interesting material into print—most recently The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery (p. 630).

Nathan, a Washington Post food writer and culinary preservationist (The Jewish Holiday Kitchen), sets out here to record living traditions in several dozen communities from Rhode Island to Washington State. Matters start off dubiously with ""authentic"" recreations of favorites enjoyed by ""Our Gourmet President,"" Thomas Jefferson. Then, happily, living cooks take over: the doyenne of a church auxiliary in the Armenian-American citadel of Watertown, Mass.; an elderly Vietnamese couple in Maryland; the volunteer chefs for three different Chicago fire department shifts; the staff of the Florida Avenue Grill in Washington, D.C.; a pair of beekeeping health-food buffs near Middlebury, Vt.; the tiny Oaxacan-born cook for an august Napa Valley winery. Some of these people are products of distinctive ethnic traditions; some are farmers, ranchers, or fishermen partly dependent on what they raise or catch; some are plain home cooks, some professionals of one stripe or another. The recipes include a real purist's version of New England baked beans (nothing but beans, salt pork, onions, and a little molasses); green beans in the true, unreconstructed Virginia style (cooked for at least an hour with a lot of slab bacon); mustard and turnip greens with smoked turkey winglets instead of ham hocks (the inspiration of one of the Chicago firehouse artists); braised pheasant with olives for Christmas Eve supper in a Providence Italian enclave. Nathan is not the historian to put the Jefferson material into convincing order; nor has she the instincts of a real folklorist. She is a likable interviewer and observer, though, thoughtful rather than judgmental about the course of culinary change (these days ""Gen Prada spends hours making her kale soup"" and finishes it off with ""a package of Lipton's Onion Soup Mix"").

Other works may examine traditions with more scholarly zeal; this Charles Kuralt-vignette approach has its own charm.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1984

ISBN: 0805239146

Page Count: 360

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2011

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


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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