A facile narrative about haves traveling in a land of have-nots.




An engineer and novelist’s account of how he traveled from Louisiana to Panama in an electric car.

Successful but bored with the “yuppie robot” he had become, Louisiana native Denmon (Lords of an Empty Land, 2015, etc.) decided he needed to “get off the grid, away from the cell phones and emails.” So he and a peripatetic college friend named Dean packed Denmon’s new Tesla Model S electric car with a GPS, two long, 240-volt extension cords, and “all the plugs and adapters I could lay my hands on” and headed south across the Rio Grande. Beyond possible encounters with crooked immigration agents, drug lords, carjackers, and roving bandits, they faced other dangers and challenges. Fully charged and traveling on flat, well-paved roads at an average of 65 miles per hour, the Tesla had a driving range of 265 miles. However, the terrain they encountered between Mexico and Panama was highly unpredictable, and the roads were often covered with large asphalt chunks that they had to dodge in order to avoid damaging a car that sat “six inches—at best—off the ground.” Finding locations where they could charge the car also proved difficult. “It would likely take all of our creative juices and ad-libbing to keep the sleek, high-tech machine moving south every day,” writes the author. Sometimes, they found hotels with the electrical outlets they needed; other times they had to beg and bribe and make due with whatever equipment they found. Denmon’s experiment in high-tech travel through the developing world is intriguing, but his observations about the countries through which he traveled are as limited and simplistic as they are pedestrian. With the exceptions of Costa Rica, “the planet’s biggest natural amusement park,” and former American protectorate Panama, Denmon typically depicts Central America as consistently dangerous and primitive and the U.S. as a place that has the “comforts that most of the world craves.”

A facile narrative about haves traveling in a land of have-nots.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1739-8

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



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

Did you like this book?

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?