Essays made up mainly of declamation. Stick with the novels and stories that ensure Bradbury’s place in the pantheon.

BRADBURY SPEAKS

TOO SOON FROM THE CAVE, TOO FAR FROM THE STARS

In three dozen pieces sometimes prickly and always passionate, SF/fantasy legend Bradbury fires off opinions galore on books, movies, SF and the people and places in his life.

As a rule, Bradbury prefers essays that “wake me at dawn and ask to be finished by noon” rather than ones requiring extensive research. Such “familiar essays” can lead to spontaneity but also, at times, as here, to preening and ranting. Though Bradbury diehards will clamor for this uneven collection (especially the dozen unpublished pieces), others may be frustrated. There are glimpses of the lyricism of the author’s best writing (a Kansas train ride a half century ago: “So the night went, the train gliding among stilts of fire, huge laboratory experiments of electric flame, then rumbling coughs of thunder as great blind hands of shocked air clapped tight, the night’s echoing applause for its own words”), showing that the octogenarian hasn’t lost his child-like capacity for wonder. And some anecdotes hold great potential: encountering Al Jolson, W.C. Fields and George Burns while roller-skating through Hollywood as a starstruck 14-year-old; visiting a polite Lord Bertrand Russell and his chilly wife as a young novelist; wrestling over the screenplay for Moby-Dick with John Huston. But Bradbury skimps so much on detail that he sounds less interested in these figures for themselves than in the fact that they crossed his path. Even hymns of praise to Paris and Los Angeles end up inevitably about himself. Sometimes he unapologetically toots his own horn (“No one else had noticed, or written about, the fact that Jules Verne had probably read Herman Melville”), at other times groans about the sorry state of the movie business, science fiction and the media (“Shut off the set. Write your local TV newspeople. Tell them to go to hell”).

Essays made up mainly of declamation. Stick with the novels and stories that ensure Bradbury’s place in the pantheon.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-058568-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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