OF A FIRE ON THE MOON

Mailer accepts a big assignment to the American mainstream and finds himself at a loss. Emotionally and politically vacant after a fruitless mayoral campaign, his fourth marriage in decline, as he explains, he is obliged to write up the 1969 moon shot from its Houston NASA base, where he lacks opportunity for the ego interaction and participatory observation which has fueled him in the past. He tries to make up for these disabilities by playing with negations, familiar ones: the missing lunar poetry and misfired drama of science ("the real explorations were not made," e.g. "what puncture might mean in space") and of course the anticlimax of it all, lacking "some joy, some outrageous sense of adventure. . . . " Compensatory streaks of magic, death, astrology and devils are conjured up, and Mailer's confrontation as delegate from the realm of raucous sensibility with the anaemic rigors of aerospace Waspdom is played to the hilt. Even in his depressed state Mailer is too intelligent and too self-intrusive to simply camp it up. But instead of tire mock epic one might expect, he produces epic self-parody as he embroiders commonplace formulations of the significance of Apollo 11: "men . . . would certainly destroy themselves if they did not have a game of gargantuan dimensions for diversion. . . a spend-spree of resources, a sublimation, yes, the very word, a sublimation of aggressive and intolerably inhuman desires, . . ." and so forth. These musings are interspersed with reams of very straight technical description (lunar module construction, computer overload, the impossibility of using a real rendezvous radar in the simulator), plus conscientious physiognomies of the astronauts, as if Mailer in the absence of his daimon endeavored to supply at least a big book for his towering (if less, he says, than the fabled $1 million) fee. The strains show in his style: dribs of forced bawdiness, drabs of mock-Faulkner writtenness, a regrettably perseverant third-person self-reference as "Aquarius," and a staggering number of "not unlike"s, "little more than"s, "all but"s and "nearly"s. It's a factitious book and Mailer seems to know it. An excerpt appeared in Life magazine.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 1970

ISBN: 0330026100

Page Count: 429

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1970

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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