Not so much “wildly distorted,” it turns out, as disjointed and unfocused.




Booker-winning novelist Carey (The True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001, etc.) turns in a “distorted” tour of Sydney during last year’s Olympic Games.

Though this “Writer and the City” series promises musings from well-regarded writers on “the city they know best,” Carey is originally from Melbourne, and didn’t live in that “vulgar crooked convict town” of Sydney until he was almost 40—and most of the time since, he has lived as a resident alien in New York. With the idiosyncratic notion of describing Sydney in terms of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, Carey spends his 30 days with old cronies, architects and artists for the most part, all grown older, their wildness mostly behind them. His friends tell good stories, and through them Carey offers bits and pieces of the essence of Sydney: a little-known eccentric who painted “Eternity” in hundreds of unlikely places; sailors reliving the disastrous Sydney-to-Hobart race of 1998; how to catch a kingfish; and most appealingly, the story of Sheridan, an ex-hippie soap-opera writer who has holed himself up in a cave in the austere Blue Mountains to write a novel. (The Olympics are mostly ignored, regarded mainly as an intrusion.) Carey weaves in the history of Sydney’s founding: the unsuitability of the land for farming; the absence of lime (needed to make mortar for laying bricks); the abuse of aborigines by the convict settlers, who were themselves abused. That convict history still informs the Australian character, Carey says, an observation commonly made. Carey’s style is a pleasure, but his point is a bit hard to make out, unless one wants to take his effort as a long prose poem—an approach to travel-writing not likely to find many readers.

Not so much “wildly distorted,” it turns out, as disjointed and unfocused.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2001

ISBN: 1-58234-166-4

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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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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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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