LEARNING A TRADE

A CRAFTSMAN'S NOTEBOOKS, 1955-1997

What Price describes humbly as “the ongoing minutes of one craftsman’s effort through more than four decades to learn his business” is, in fact, a monumental entree into the extraordinarily restive, creative mind of the South’s great elegist and one of America’s preeminent moral novelists. Starting in 1955, when the North Carolinian was a young student at Oxford meticulously thinking through on paper his early stories and first novel, A Long and Happy Life, and continuing through the first draft of his latest novel (Roxanna Slade, 1998), Learning A Trade provides a day-by-day record of the evolution of a novelist. Though the prolific writer produced poems, plays, and essays, fiction dominates his attention here. Early on,the notebooks were his de facto writing school, “the place where I’ve worked to teach myself the needs and duties and daily procedures of a competent writer.” We see Price learning his strengths and limitations, discovering how best to work, and developing the rich, poetic language that is his trademark. The notes are a source book (a central repository for “anything I heard or thought that seemed of possible use to the writer I meant to be”) and sounding board. He tries out bits of dialog, last lines, and first lines; engages in self-debate about possible plot developments; and (a recurring theme) hashes out reservations about similarities between new work and old. For readers, much material will be meaningless without first reading the fiction itself. Price scholars will rejoice in the wealth of detail regarding the inspiration for characters, images, and turns-of-phrase (the title for A Long and Happy Life comes from Bridge on the River Kwai, for example). Writers—particularly beginners—will savor Price’s lucid address of the mundane but essential issues of the writing life. An estimable desktop companion for reader and writer alike—a volume remarkable more for its durable flame than for any pyrotechnic flashes. (5 illustrations include drawings by the author)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8223-2112-2

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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