BEHIND THE WALL

A SEASON ON THE NASCAR CIRCUIT

The high-octane world of stock-car racing and the planning, preparation, and mechanical wizardry that go on behind the scenes are given a rather bland and repetitious treatment here by Daily Variety correspondent Huff. Huff follows owner Billy Hagan's team, including driver Terry Labonte, on the 1991 National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) tour. The circuit includes 30 races at speedways across the country as big-name drivers like Richard Perry, Darrell Waltrip, and Davey Allison vie for the Winston Cup in a season-long quest decided by total points won at individual races. Sponsored by Sunoco, Hagan's once-successful team experienced personnel and technical problems from the season-opening Daytona 500 (the ``Super Bowl'' of NASCAR) to the frustrating finale at the Hardee's 500 in Atlanta. As Huff repeatedly shows, Labonte, the 1984 Winston Cup champion, had little use for his crew or management. He complained at race after race that Hagan's cars were either ``loose...like the rear end...would lose contact with the track,'' too tight, too old and outmoded, or simply not ``set up'' properly to keep pace. With the almost weekly rule changes regarding the timing of pit stops and tire changes, and the usual problems of mechanics and accidents, the Hagan crew faced bitter dissension plus numerous equipment and design failures. Everyone from tire-changers to Sunoco's president had an opinion as to where to lay the blame for the team's mediocre performance (Labonte captured only one pole position all year and finished in the top five but once), culminating in crew chief Steve Loyd's replacement. While that change helped a little, it came too late, as Labonte, who found every excuse simply to park the car, finished 18th in the Winston Cup rankings. Stock-car racing would seem rich in dramatic possibilities, but Huff never gets this entry out of first gear. (Illustrations- -not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-929387-66-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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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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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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