Cloying and wistful but ultimately an enjoyable read.

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SLANTS OF LIGHT

STORIES AND POEMS FROM THE WOMEN'S WRITING CIRCLE

A collective of women writers lets its figurative hair down in these recollections, assertions of independence and examinations of family dynamics.

Members of the Philadelphia-based Women’s Writing Circle compile their stories, memories and poems in this tenderhearted, nostalgic anthology. Most of the pieces touch on the trials and joys of friendship, marriage and careers, and whether memoir or fiction, the stories all share an investment in exploring the authors’ most meaningful, significant relationships and articulating experiences they never before dared. Much of the book is racked with sentimentalities and manifest observations. One story, which begins with a mother’s words of warning to her 8-year-old daughter—“A woman needs to pay attention to a man’s words, but even closer to his tone”—goes on to state the obvious: “Something tells me there was a lesson in those words.” Even though the writing tends to be baggy and imprecise, its passion and commitment are undeniable. While many stories have overlapping themes and stock characters, such as the inattentive husband and the loyal best friend, some develop into moving tales by capturing the uniqueness of the author’s perspective. For instance, Flo Shore’s meditative, fanciful “Blessed by a Butterfly” introspects on the shimmering line between coincidence and magic. Susan G. Weidener, in her poignant fiction about a woman’s relationship to her family home, memorably writes, “She heard the pop of a champagne cork and her mother’s laugh like a soprano trilling an aria.” Contributor Jodi Monster pens one of the most evocative and affecting stories, about a domestic worker, Josie, who cares for an elderly woman, Betty, and the smart, elegant way Josie is able to reach her even in her most delusional, vulnerable moments. Monster gives delicate and complete descriptions of landscape, context and character in gently musical sentences. One such moment arrives in a description of the small coastal town on the morning Josie comes to work for Betty: “Closer to shore, fat gulls roosted on the boat poles and dinghies bobbed on sure lines.” The book will speak to female readers of a certain age looking to connect with like-minded women, and haunting sentences—“She had been raised to fear snakes and spiders and most especially a draft, but no one, it seemed, had thought to warn her about the spirits that rose on the endless plainsong of the tide”—linger well after the collection’s end. Even though the authors sometimes treat their content too preciously, overall these stories work splendidly as unpretentious, triumphant reflections of times past.

Cloying and wistful but ultimately an enjoyable read. 

Pub Date: April 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482344509

Page Count: 168

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2013

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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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