A lively Vonnegut-esque social critique that pretends to be esoteric buffoonery.




This encore anthology of misanthropic writings offers another dose of satirical drama, essays, illustrations, asides, and a print-your-own Ph.D. diploma.

In this work, Reneau (MisAnthropology: A Florilegium of Bahumbuggery, 2003) includes four absurd “conversations” (dramas), “pontifications” (essays), and sketches by Mexican political cartoonist Rogelio Naranjo. The diverse subject matter includes the O.J. Simpson trial reimagined in the form of an opera, and a sci-fi drama with a gender-bending married couple intent on populating a planet. In his essay “The Perils of Satire,” Reneau discusses the risks and rewards of the form, saying “a ‘bad’ argument against the cause you promote can perhaps be more effective than a ‘good’ argument in favor of it.” He follows this up with “The Bugby Legacy,” a satirical guide to running an organized religion as an ultra-successful business. The book is peppered with various caricatures—like the bombastic news anchor Yam Snosnibor— who go blithely about their business, unaware of their human foibles. Playful buffoonery, clever wordplay, and ridiculous antics serve to lampoon humanity and religion. Reneau’s tone is prevailingly lighthearted. “We hitched a ride on a tedious trek to this turkeyhole in the sky?” asks a character who has just spent millions of light-years traveling to a new home. Readers should feel as if they are in on the jokes, even if some of the 50-cent words and creative language can be overwhelming: “Our task is to entice negotiables from the wallets of the illiterati, and convince these yokels that they will want to be able to comment knowingly on this Pillar of Western Literature at their water cooler or sewing circle.” The occasionally digressive conversations debate the American justice system and the First and Second Amendments. Reneau also tells jokes about various groups and icons, including the NRA and Abraham: “He was stopped from consummating this cockamamie deed when an angel of Yahweh suddenly appeared in the nickotime and assured this obedient idiot, who was just following orders, that he was only kidding.”

A lively Vonnegut-esque social critique that pretends to be esoteric buffoonery.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-9729549-1-4

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Donlazaro Translations

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 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?