In this memoir, Smart (Hell Camp, 2013) discusses working at a shelter for troubled teens while also dealing with personal troubles of her own.
For 12 years, the South African author has worked as a supervisor at a county youth shelter in Southern California,taking care of teens who are feuding with their parents or have nowhere else to go. The pay is poor and the work is grueling, she writes, as she deals with the myriad physical, mental, and emotional issues that afflict her wards. Smart has remained there, year in and year out, despite—or perhaps because of—the tremendous problems in her personal life, recounted here: her tumultuous relationship with her teenage daughter; her frustrated dream of being a singer; her on-again, off-again affair with an emotionally troubled member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and, most of all, her nearly crippling drinking problem: “I hate my life,” she once thought, after an out-of-control night. “I can’t function anymore….It’s not that I want to kill myself, it’s just that I no longer want to be alive.” As the author tried to help her teens figure out how to exist in the world, she had to figure out how to do so herself. Smart’s prose is energetic and candid throughout this book. It’s tinged with indelicate humor that some readers may occasionally find offensive, though. However, she’s always willing to call out what she sees as right or wrong in her line of work: “there are kids who benefit from Seroquel, or similar drugs, but I’d wager that a healthy diet and some proper parenting might do the trick, too….Seroquel is akin to a whack on the head with a sledgehammer.” Overall, this is a memoir that’s confessional but never myopic—one that shows how easily angels and demons can reside, side by side, inside us all.
A colorful, sometimes-coarse remembrance of addiction and recovery.
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)
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").