Unique eyes look at familiar things and somehow make them seem both odder and more familiar.



A motley collection of pieces—often quite brief, many previously unpublished—on topics ranging from broken love to stretch marks to Tylenol.

Essayist Noble has a focused, tight style, often employing the technique of looking at somewhat discrete items (or memories) and seeking connections among them. Early in this debut volume, for example, is a series of snippets about the author’s experiences looking in mirrors, from childhood to the present—yes, Narcissus makes an appearance. Later, Noble examines a collection of rings that once belonged to her late grandmother, and she riffs on each one, giving us the histories of the various stones (“Pliny wrote that wearing a diamond wards off insanity”) and the memories she has of them. The author displays admirable candor in some reflections about her love affairs, chronicling not just how they began, but also how they cracked and crumbled, and she does not hesitate to recognize that she was sometimes the one to initiate the cracks. Noble also writes bluntly about her fears of childbirth. Another technique she uses is to compare her life with the lives of literary and historical figures. In a piece about one of her relationships, for instance, she cuts back and forth to and from the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Evident throughout is Noble’s fondness for reading and literature: Virginia Woolf drifts in and out of a number of essays, and she alludes to Wuthering Heights, Montaigne, Robinson Crusoe, Joan Didion, and Sherwin Nuland, among numerous others. Throughout the collection, Noble delivers many sharp-edged sentences. At the end of an essay about shotgun shells, Noble writes about a spent shell and her target: “I hold a shell in my hand and look at the cardboard box half-shredded on the ground. My thumb, the size of the shell; the hole, the size of your heart.”

Unique eyes look at familiar things and somehow make them seem both odder and more familiar.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4962-0504-9

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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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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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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