TRAVELS WITH GEORGE IN SEARCH OF BEN HUR

AND OTHER MEANDERINGS

Ruffin (English/Sam Houston State Univ.; New and Selected Poems, 2010, etc.) offers a collection of personal essays that read like script ideas rejected by the Farrelly brothers.

Though the author boasts a fairly impressive Southern Lit CV—founding director of Texas Review Press, founding editor of the Texas Review and 2009 Texas State Poet Laureate—most of these essays are just offensive and miss the mark. They find great humor in excessive drinking—Ruffin devotes an entire piece to his history with alcohol and lubricates others—and many of the essays celebrate a sort of arrested adolescence, especially with women. The author ogles teenaged waitresses and watches a mosquito probing a thigh of “a beautiful young woman” sitting next to him at a reading—guess what the probing reminds him of? Ruffin dismisses women who don’t turn him on, including one waitress to whose apparently unsavory looks he devotes an entire paragraph. The author also displays an infantile pleasure in the body’s waste products; One essay is entirely about our multiple uses of the word shit; another records his mother’s (!) eccentric practices with her used Kotex. Throughout, the author oddly reveals a disdain for the Southern and Southwestern people whom he putatively celebrates. One mean-spirited essay ridicules the doggerel written by some law-enforcement officers at a convention—a bit like a martial-arts expert’s flattening some eager movie fan in line to see The Karate Kid. Ultimately, this collection reveals the author’s inability to know what’s important and what isn’t. An interminable essay about a flight in a cargo plane features pages of ain’t-goin’-nowhere-in-particular dialogue and crude comments about women’s body parts. Essays for the drunk and disorderly. Ruffin should stick to poetry and fiction—see The Man Who Would Be God (1993) or Jesus in the Mist (2007).

 

Pub Date: April 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57003-986-7

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Univ. of South Carolina

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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