A pleasure for fans of Benson and the band.

COMIN' RIGHT AT YA

HOW A JEWISH YANKEE HIPPIE WENT COUNTRY, OR, THE OFTEN OUTRAGEOUS HISTORY OF ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

Affable, easygoing, sometimes almost-too-mellow memoir by the noted evangelist of Western swing music and driver of Asleep at the Wheel.

“I guess it was inevitable that I’d wind up a slow-moving hippie,” writes Benson—and not just because he was born on a Friday, and Friday’s child, in the old nursery rhyme, is “loving and giving.” Usually, but not always: “Yes, I was an asshole a lot of the time, and I regret a lot of the toes I stepped on, but there were some things I had to do to make it work,” he writes. The “it” was converting a bunch of dope-smoking college buddies from local heroes in Paw Paw, West Virginia, into world-class champions of country music in the Bob Wills tradition—an unlikely transformation for a nice Jewish boy brought up on the British Invasion. Still, Benson recalls, it wasn’t such an unusual choice after all: he loved country music, and among his jazz-loving, radical, longhair pals, there was plenty of appreciation for the thought of country as the music of the people. Fast-forward out of the West Virginia—and, occasionally, Washington, D.C.—music scene, and Benson has transported his merry band to Texas, where the Wills sound began, and into a (mostly) benevolent dictatorship to get the sound he wants. The usual suspects are there, of course: Willie with his doober, Johnny Paycheck with his growl, Bill Clinton with his—well, his chicken plucking. And the usual tropes are there, for though it ain’t rock ’n’ roll, there was plenty of sex and drugs in Benson’s corner of the country. “I’m not sure anybody is ever in control of their cocaine habit,” he writes with a certain quiet pride, “but I was probably as close as you can get.” Spinning through jazz, blues, country, and rock, giving boosts to the likes of George Strait and Lyle Lovett, the author genially recounts a merry and generally mayhem-free life in music.

A pleasure for fans of Benson and the band.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-292-75658-8

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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