A capable collection of writing that continually reviews itself.



The latest collection from a professor who attempts to renew and extend the legacy of the personal essay.

Among Madden’s credits are his co-editorship of After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays (2015), in which the contributors honored their debt to the essayist who established the form in the 16th century. In one of the shorter essays here, the author makes offhand mention of that project, describing how he was thwarted in his attempts to visit Montaigne’s tower and library because the site was closed on the day he made his pilgrimage. His plea that he “was a disciple of Montaigne” fell on deaf ears, and he was forced to remain outside, wandering the grounds, which he later decided had been all to the good, at least for the purpose of the resulting essay: “There’s something appropriate about being stymied in an essayistic quest, because essays were never about completing things; they distrust the very notion of tidy endings. Much better, it seems to me now, that I missed the dusty tower and instead strolled the grounds with the gardener, who, like the Great Man he and I serve, contains within him the entire human condition.” And so it goes with these essays, which even the essayist suggests are arbitrary in their organization and inconsequential in their purpose yet contain many elements of the human condition. Madden writes a lot about writing and thinking, challenging readers to discover just what any of these pieces is really about. In “Freewill,” which invokes the wisdom of the rock band Rush, the author suggests to readers that “there is no whole to be comprehended, no essential destination,” and later asks, “Where was I going with all this? I’m not sure.” Throughout, the writing is playful and marked by humility, with Madden often inviting readers—and other writers—into the narrative.

A capable collection of writing that continually reviews itself.

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4962-0244-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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