DOWN FROM TROY

A DOCTOR COMES OF AGE

Superbly skilled writer/surgeon Selzer (Imagine a Woman, 1990, etc.) cracks open his psyche's sternum, showing us his heart repairs, then goes about sewing up the wounds while they are still dotted with blood. Now 64, Selzer didn't start writing seriously until he was 40, then retired at 58 to write full time. He finds many likenesses between surgery and writing: ``Writing, like doctoring, has nothing to do with cleverness. It is all diagnosis and feeling....'' His father and mother dominate this memoir, and he's greatly happy that he has fulfilled both their dreams. His mother, a singer forever bursting into arias around the house (even as Selzer here bursts into warblings and subtly shaded songs about yellow meadows of fat and maroon- and salmon-colored inner organs), wanted him to be an artist; his father, a general practitioner, took young Selzer around with him on his house calls and inducted him into the healing art. Much of what Selzer remembers here takes place in his hometown of Troy, N.Y., where prostitution flourished as a leading business during the Depression. Selzer's father doctored to the whores at the Selzer home, and after his death Selzer heard from an aunt that his father was a great womanizer with these clients. In fact, only after his parents' deaths has Selzer faced many family skeletons. His mother's death at 88 and burial in the rain is movingly told: ``There was the trench, like a socket from which the tooth had been pulled. Then the ancient spectacle, full of murmuring and slow gestures. The village of black umbrellas.'' It's his widower mother's attractiveness to suitors that frees Selzer to show us her history as a teenage waterfront songstress, with hints of darker, more reckless days. A marvel as Selzer gives every pain its name—though his nonreading mother called his books all lies.

Pub Date: July 23, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-09715-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1992

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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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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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