Uneven but emotional, grateful and often wise.

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LOST IN LANGUAGE AND SOUND

A MEMOIR OF COMING TO THE ARTS

Acclaimed playwright Shange (Ellington Was Not a Street, 2004, etc.) offers a collection of personal essays dealing with anger, pride, creativity, family, identity, mental health and love.

The author, who also writes poetry, children’s books and novels, visits just about every human emotion in these pieces, which date from various decades in her life. In some, she employs her idiosyncratic spelling (wazenuf), capitalization (none) and punctuation (minimal), but the later pieces adhere to more conventional mechanics—though never to conventional ideas. Her anger is evident throughout—from patronizing whites to black rappers (whose misogynistic lyrics and ideas she equates with the vileness that produced slavery) to the silence of black male intellectuals, whom she accuses of sanctioning rappers’ misogyny. She writes informatively about the genesis of her most famous work of dram for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, examines her personal history for her love of language, dance and music and confesses, near the end, that she actually likes men—though she believes that most of them have one goal in mind with women. Among her most affecting pieces are two short essays about her parents, one for each. Her father was a physician, and Shange writes emotionally about his love of music and his exuberant dancing with her mother. She recalls hiding in her mother’s closet, absorbing her. She includes a promising piece about learning other languages, but spoils it with chunks of block quotations that effectively silence her voice and still her rhythm, as well as a touching poem addressed to an unnamed young poet. Along the way, Shange offers glimpses of her visits to a shrink, though she does not provide any clinical diagnosis, just some hints of malaise and unhappiness.

Uneven but emotional, grateful and often wise.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-20616-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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