On the other hand, all but the most devoted theorists will catch a whiff, sooner or later, of a conference paper run amok.

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WHO KILLED ROGER ACKROYD?

THE MYSTERY BEHIND THE AGATHA CHRISTIE MYSTERY

Psychoanalyst Bayard takes a moment away from teaching French literature to reopen one of the most celebrated murder cases in fiction, with surprising results.

To those readers (probably Bayard’s entire audience) who object that the culprit has been obvious ever since Agatha Christie published The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in 1926, Bayard has a whole battery of answers. The evidence against the self-acknowledged killer, who nowhere explicitly confesses to the crime, is flimsy at best; Christie’s work is “a model of polysemy” that generates more meanings than any single ending can control; Hercule Poirot, the detective who solves the crime, may well be delusional. (On this last point, Bayard’s psychoanalytic training makes his argument as dense as it is unconvincing.) More generally and provocatively, Bayard insists that “all mystery fiction in effect implies the narrator’s bad faith” and is therefore subject to endless reinterpretation, despite Poirot’s conceited faith in his little gray cells. Bayard’s investigation is hampered by several schoolboy errors and an often unidiomatic translation. One of the major suspects in the novel is omitted from his cast of characters; Christie’s novel Five Little Pigs is confused with Ten Little Indians; and so many of her other titles are mistranslated that it becomes an intriguing minor mystery to figure out which novels are identified as The Valley, The Poisoned Pen, The Prothero Affair, and The Indiscretions of Hercule Poirot. Eventually, however, Bayard escapes these byways to propound a new solution that answers his objections about the one Christie gives. Even readers impatient with the subtleties of his entertainingly perverse argument are likely to find this solution satisfying.

On the other hand, all but the most devoted theorists will catch a whiff, sooner or later, of a conference paper run amok.

Pub Date: June 7, 2000

ISBN: 1-56584-579-X

Page Count: 176

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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