Hornby is an entertainingly unpretentious critic; any reader would come away with a handful of book recommendations they’d...

MORE BATHS LESS TALKING

NOTES FROM THE READING LIFE OF A CELEBRATED AUTHOR LOCKED IN BATTLE WITH FOOTBALL, FAMILY, AND TIME ITSELF

The rock-obsessed novelist confesses his idiosyncratic reading habits in this fourth collection of columns written for the Believer.

Critics tend to write reviews as if in a bubble, rarely acknowledging the ways the world can intrude on their reading and comprehension. The charm of Hornby’s (Juliet, Naked, 2009, etc.) “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” column is his candor about the messy intersection of living and reading. One column opens with his two young children demanding his attention as he struggles to finish Nicholson Baker’s novel The Anthologist; in another, he points out how a trusted recommendation led him to Don Carpenter’s obscure 1966 noir, Hard Rain Falling. That intimate perspective makes this book read more like a set of personal essays than book reviews, but he still delivers some funny and clear-eyed insights on writing. He demolishes the sexism of John Updike’s Marry Me by calling out the preposterousness of its dialogue, and writing about Colm Tóibín’s novel Brooklyn gives him the opportunity to thoughtfully consider the pleasures of rereading and the distinctions between screenwriting and writing novels. Hornby’s tastes often match those of the Believer audience’s, which prefers contemporary fiction and hipper nonfiction, but he roves widely, devouring Muriel Spark and Charles Dickens along with David Kynaston’s dense history Austerity Britain and a biography of Preston Sturges. Hornby’s reading life is pleasantly experimental, and though he softens his disappointments for the no-snark-allowed Believer, he’s at his most entertaining when he falls in love by accident with a book, as with Sarah Bakewell’s Montaigne biography, How to Live.

Hornby is an entertainingly unpretentious critic; any reader would come away with a handful of book recommendations they’d be eager to check out.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-938073-05-2

Page Count: 200

Publisher: McSweeney’s

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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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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