Gaiman’s many fans will love this collection, which showcases the author’s wit, wisdom, and deep appreciation for art and...

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THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS

SELECTED NONFICTION

The acclaimed author shares his thoughts on stories of all kinds: books, comics, movies, music, and more.

Gaiman (Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, 2015, etc.) is a fan. Of course, as a writer, he’s created unforgettable worlds and characters, but in this collection of essays, introductions, speeches, and other nonfiction works, it’s his fan side that comes through most strongly. The author writes about the thrill of discovering a piece of art that feels like it was made just for you; the way certain books or songs seem to slot into a place in your heart you didn’t know was there; the way a text can mean different things at different times in your life. If the idea of going on a long, rambling walk with Gaiman and asking him about his influences sounds appealing, this is the book for you. He discusses art and life and arbitrary divisions between genres, the film The Bride of Frankenstein, the band They Might Be Giants, the war in Syria, and the work of Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, Cory Doctorow, H.P. Lovecraft, James Thurber, Douglas Adams, Harlan Ellison, G.K. Chesterton, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury, among plenty of others—and anything else that sparks his endlessly creative mind. The book will also double his fans’ to-read lists and inspire readers to browse the secondhand sections in their favorite book or record shops. Gaiman is big on rereading. It’s one of several themes that weave in and out of these pieces, in addition to telling the truth in fantastic forms, finding your voice, breaking the rules, and making something new. This is a book to dip in and out of; while themes and ideas do repeat, they will also change and take on new resonances over time.

Gaiman’s many fans will love this collection, which showcases the author’s wit, wisdom, and deep appreciation for art and the people who make it.

Pub Date: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-226226-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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