A toothless, mildly entertaining read for lovers of Australia and expats.

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AUSTRALIAN DAILY

In his memoir, a Frenchman-turned-Englishman recalls marrying an Australian girl and moving to the land Down Under, chronicling the first 365 days of his new life on the other side of the world.

On July 20, 2012—the dead of what passes for winter in Sydney—Vojetta (Opération Marie, 2013) offered his first post from the world’s biggest island. Thus begins the epistolary structure of this memoir—a single entry for each day, musing on the observed similarities and differences between Australia and the other countries he has called home. The Vojetta readers meet is a financial analyst–turned-writer who has published two previous books in French under the pseudonym Lawrence Tajevot. Vojetta, it seems, is most comfortable using an alias, so before two months of entries have elapsed, he has created a third-person version of himself named “Ollie,” in deference to Australians’ apparent love of abbreviations and acronyms. Ollie’s life in Sydney is a blessed one: He is entranced by the city’s seemingly eternal sunshine and outdoor sporting opportunities, and his pursuit of a new flat, a new car and frequent travel indicate that he has few financial worries. But his life also seems an oddly isolated one. Even a stranger in a strange land—particularly one who is married—will interact with other human beings from time to time, but Vojetta’s insistence on the third-person voice gives the impression that nearly all the observations and experiences are Ollie’s alone, companionless. Even his wife, who presumably accompanied him on most adventures, appears in the narrative only rarely (on Valentine’s Day, for instance. Perhaps because of this, an air of self-indulgence permeates Ollie’s entries—what might be a slightly inflated sense of the profundity of his observations or the wittiness of his wordplay. Ollie may also be overconfident in his English writing skills, which, while not deplorable, clearly indicate that he is not a native speaker: “But then, to follow grammar rules to the letter is perhaps even more important than simplicity. And this is why CEO’s (sic) tweeting is without doubt asking for trouble.”

A toothless, mildly entertaining read for lovers of Australia and expats.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-646-92090-0

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Blurb Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2014

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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