BRANDO

THE BIOGRAPHY

This biography, much discussed even before its publication, is as mammoth as Brando himself—and a compelling read. Most of the details supplied by Manso (Mailer: His Life and Times, 1985, etc.) regarding Brando's myriad peccadilloes, sexual and otherwise, are essential for a complete picture of an unusually complex and distasteful human being: self-absorbed, manipulative, a poor parent, and a user of women. (No doubt Brando will present a different picture in his autobiography, which Random House will publish this month; no advance galleys are available.) Born in 1924, Brando was the son of two ill-matched alcoholics. His mother, with whom he had an almost incestuously close relationship, was a free-thinking bohemian; his father was a pompous businessman with a penchant for shady dealing. Brando was a troubled and troublesome boy who was thrown out of several schools and never got a high school diploma (though he later became a voracious reader). When he moved to New York City to pursue the theater as a career, it was his close relationship with Stella Adler, who taught him acting, that grounded him. After receiving excellent notices in several smaller parts, his dazzling performance in A Streetcar Named Desire led him to Hollywood, where, as Manso observes, he established ``his indelible, transcendent image as a genius among actors.'' Manso is good at eliciting from Brando's colleagues a sense of his unusual working methods and startling flair for improvisation on camera. Regrettably, Brando's ambivalence about his work and his self-indulgence off camera resulted in a self-loathing that affected his acting. Until The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris, most people in the film industry were prepared to write him off as a spent bullet. Manso traces Brando's involvement in the American Indian Movement, his long-standing love affair with Tahiti, and the gruesome story of the shooting of his daughter's boyfriend by her half-brother Christian. To Manso's credit, the book is neither a hatchet job nor a bronzing. His biggest weakness is an inability to relate the actor to his times in a specific way, falling back instead on a laundry list of current events. Nevertheless, a page-turner that will fascinate even Brando's detractors—maybe especially them. (First serial rights to Vanity Fair)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1994

ISBN: 0-7868-6063-4

Page Count: 1120

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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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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