Alexander sets a standard of thoroughness for future works on Paton, but the treasures unearthed by his impressive research are few and far between in this tell-too-much biography. Published in 1948, Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country was a major force in drawing international attention to both literature and apartheid in South Africa. This comprehensive account covers his boyhood; his university years; his teaching career; his long tenure as principal of a reformatory; his emergence as a novelist and persecuted political figure; and his second marriage and later life. Alexander (English/Univ. of New South Wales) knew Paton and had the cooperation of his widow and two sons. His exclusive access to intimate diaries and correspondence allows him to fill out and correct Paton's autobiographies and various memoirs of him by friends and family. He counters Paton's published assertions that he was a lenient teacher by presenting the future novelist as a despised schoolmaster whose students went so far as to cheer wildly when he was nearly blinded by a chemistry demonstration gone awry. Alexander also covers Paton's extramarital affairs, of which he had at least two, and his first, sexually unfulfilling marriage to a widow who wore the wedding band from her first marriage. Since Paton did not write Cry, the Beloved Country until he was in his 40s, much of the story centers on the novelist's frustrated political ambitions. After becoming a celebrated author, much of his political work was organizational and not really the stuff of exciting storytelling. Alexander tries to show Paton as a man who cared most about serving others, but the dominant narrative thread portrays a self-assuming, sometimes calculating man. Paton achieved the rare feat of writing a novel that perceptively changed the way people looked at part of the world. His own story, however, turns out to be mundane. (8 pages b&w photos)
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)
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").