Like much of Delbanco's full-length fiction (Stillness, Sherbrookes, etc.), these nine stories are intelligent, readable, well-meaning—yet lacking in depth, drama, or texture. In almost all the pieces, the focus is on a man nearing 40, usually married, usually the father of a beloved daughter; the man recalls an old flame, or considers the similarities between his dead mother and his young daughter, or muses on time and transience. (In "Traction," the man hurries home from a business trip to be with his daughter after her hip operation: "His baby lay in a hospital bed; he would tell her on arrival, though she would not comprehend him, how the world is in an orbit and ail-things are therefore circular.") Unfortunately, however, though Delbanco gives each of these men different names, ethnic backgrounds, and occupations (lawyer, doctor, insurance broker, academic), they are blandly interchangeable—and uniformly fuzzy; even a tale involving the discovery of infidelity fails to invest this persona with vividness or specificity. (Flattest of all is the essay-like title story—a meditation, dedicated to the late John Gardner's memory, on the unexpected deaths of friends: "Death visited him nightly. It comes when it will come. It could be a furnace malfunction, allergic reaction, rabid bat, oncoming drunk in a van in his lane, suicide, undiagnosed leukemia, handgun in a shopping mall, pilot error, stroke, the purposive assault of some unrecognized opponent, earth, air, water, flame.") And the few sparks of narrative urgency here come from some of the more interesting personalities who cross this central persona's path: in "The Executor," the hero (a frustrated artist) reluctantly inherits the papers of a late, semi-distinguished painter; in the similar "Northiam Hall," a would-be biographer goes to England to start research on the poet Harold Emmett but abandons the project ("Emmett's teaching had been suicide; he was better left alone. We each must learn to die; exampling helps only a little"); and in the faintly amusing "Ostinato," a tired notion—a husband's infidelity with the au pair girl—is given a bit of a bounce via the girl's oddly worded letters (she's Japanese) to both husband and wife. Mildly involving, never-disturbing short fiction, then: sentimental, wistfully thoughtful, undistinguished.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1983

ISBN: 0688021573

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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

Did you like this book?