Superb: a gift that keeps on giving and a fine introduction to the life and letters of a supposedly (but not really) gray...

THE 50s

THE STORY OF A DECADE

Following on the previous anthology, The 40s (2014), the editors of the New Yorker continue to mine the magazine’s impossibly rich history.

With the possible exception of Esquire, there has been no general-interest magazine in the history of American journalism more influential, and more packed with talent, than the New Yorker. It’s arguable when the magazine’s heyday took place, but many knowledgeable readers place it in the tenure of William Shawn, “quiet, subtle, secretive, elliptical, and, to some, quite strange,” who succeeded Harold Ross in January 1952 and set to work building his own legacy. This volume contains work by writers who are still influential today—and some who have been all but forgotten. Joseph Mitchell, interest in whom has recently revived, turns up early, in a section called “American Scenes,” reporting from the front lines of the postwar civil rights movement. Dwight McDonald, little known today, turns in a fine portrait of the activist Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Workers, who—the sexist and ageist past being what it is—is described as looking “like an elderly schoolteacher or librarian.” In a similar vein, profiling the emerging movie star Marlon Brando in 1957 at a length unthinkable today, Truman Capote sets off with the odd observation, “Most Japanese girls giggle.” As he shows, Brando sometimes gave them reason to. The portrait is every bit as serious, though, as Lillian Ross’ reportage on the making of the now-classic John Huston film The Red Badge of Courage (1951). Other highlights: a forward-looking piece by Roald Dahl anticipating the wine craze of later decades and a deeply curious short story by John Updike describing in passing the antics of a party-going woman who, “insanely drunk, was throwing herself around as if wanting to break a bone.” Other contributors include A.J. Liebling, James Thurber, Wolcott Gibbs, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath, and Nadine Gordimer.

Superb: a gift that keeps on giving and a fine introduction to the life and letters of a supposedly (but not really) gray decade.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-679-64481-1

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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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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