RUNNING IN PLACE

SCENES FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

A disappointing attempt to wrest significance from a lifetime of visits to Provence; by a veteran novelist (Sherbrookes, Stillness, etc.). Delbanco begins promisingly in the caves of the Dordogne, as his tendency to heavily underscore ironies is balanced by a rare modesty of style. But in the episodes that follow—Delbanco at 18, setting forth with a letter of credit and a sports car to deliver; the author as an adult, picking up a Volvo sedan and driving down from Sweden, as a young writer living with his London relatives, then delivering an Alfa Romeo with a folksinger girlfriend—it becomes clear that these are vignettes, too frail for the burdens they carry. Partially, the problem is Delbanco's overripe style. Even when he deprecates his youthful smugness, born of privilege, he somehow ends up celebrating it. A paragraph of delicate description is followed by one full of unleavened facts ("These are the thirty-two winds of Provence. . ."). Sentimental dialogues with his daughters alternate with the kind of lush language and Victorian cadences indulged in by some art historians. The episodic technique prevents our ever getting to know the main characters, aristocratic Lilo and Alex, and the peasants Guillaume and Felicity. Briefly, the book threatens to make a centerpiece of Delbanco's proximity to and friendship with James Baldwin. But their encounters are short and circumspect, adding nothing to what is known of the late, self-exiled writer. In the end, a frustrating book, good only in fragments. Delbanco often notes that Provence is a harsh land; a little of that harshness in his narrative would have done much to help this memoir keep its balance.

Pub Date: July 22, 1989

ISBN: 0802138098

Page Count: 243

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1989

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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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