A bold undertaking to be sure, but woefully short on dramatic tension and attention-sustaining adventure.



Readable but dispensable account of the author’s valiant immersion in the Yukon’s storied dogsledding culture.

“I was going to spend eleven weeks, in the heart of winter, in one of the most inhospitable climes on earth,” writes London-based travel writer Evans (On a Hoof and a Prayer, 2008, etc.), facing the latest of her physically demanding Everywoman adventures with clear-eyed objectivity. She was initially lured by the romantic prospect of working with Yukon sled dogs at Muktuk Kennels, home to some of Canada’s most revered “mushers.” Her plan was to begin with menial work (cleaning out excrement-filled dog kennels) and eventually advance to command a team of sled dogs. The setup promises thrill-a-minute immersion journalism, but Evans delivers a disappointingly secondhand drama. She constantly interrupts her personal narrative to lapse into library-research mode. It seems she’s more comfortable reveling in the woodsy musings of Robert Service, Jack London and other famous writers and poets of the Arctic, or getting vicarious thrills from the exploits of early 20th-century Yukon explorers and gold-hunters. Although Evans’ fascination with the land and its zoological and environmental extremes can make for inspired prose—very few writers have described a mere snowflake with such attentiveness—the constant shifting from hapless amateur dogsledder and kennel custodian to dilettantish Yukon history buff becomes an annoying tactic. Evans maintains admirably defiant enthusiasm in the midst of her bumbling attempts to mix with the filthy, sometimes recalcitrant sled dogs while fending off sickness and frostbite. Unfortunately, the camp banter with her musher mates never seems to go beyond the most cursory conversational snippets. Her sledding companions possess nary a shred of puckish wit nor the slightest predilection for the sort of late-night campfire mischief expected from life-on-the-edge outdoors types.

A bold undertaking to be sure, but woefully short on dramatic tension and attention-sustaining adventure.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-34111-0

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Delta

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2008

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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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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