Thirty Auster essays, reviews, prefaces, and interviews, nearly all of which have been previously published in small literary magazines or The New York Review of Books. Many of these fugitive pieces predate Auster's successful career as a novelist (Leviathan, p. 732, etc.). In fact, they chart the transition he made from being a poet to becoming one of the increasingly well-known fictional voices of our time. The essays often address notions that animate the fiction: How do you speak about the unspeakable? How does the artist see while remaining invisible? How does art re-create the body of its creator? And, most importantly, why is modern art at its best all about failure and risk? Auster, whose main influences are Beckett and Kafka, introduces and examines writers whose work often embodies these themes—from Knut Hamsun's courtship of failure to Laura Riding's abandonment of poetry. A series of essays on the Objectivist poets (Charles Reznikoff, George Oppen, Carl Rakosi) forms a clear explanation of their post-Imagist aesthetic. Like Beckett characters, Auster's favorite writers pursue an art of survival—recognizing, but not acquiescing to, the absurd. Edmond Jabes deconstructs the book; Georges Perec combines literary play with human compassion; and Giuseppe Ungaretti continually confronts his mortality. Auster's historical command of modern French poetry is impressive. And his own aesthetic values are admirable—he takes a clear and levelheaded approach to writers often considered difficult and obscure. Auster's "eccentric and peculiar tastes" cohere, in these critical pieces, into something much more than his modest claim that he's "simply one writer trying to talk about others.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 1992

ISBN: 0140267506

Page Count: 312

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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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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