A thrilling account of a dangerous but tantalizing aspiration.



A pilot recounts three attempts to reach the magnetic north pole by plane. 

While at an air show in Wisconsin in 1978, debut author Taylor and his two buddies Pat Epps and Verner Martin decided to embark upon a “fantasy mission”: reach the magnetic north pole by aircraft. Taylor, Epps, and Martin—nicknamed Super, Klondike, and Zip respectively—determined their “ever-wandering” mark was somewhere along the southern border of the Arctic Ocean, piled into Epp’s single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza, and began the 2,000-plus–mile journey. They were frightfully unprepared—they didn’t have a weather radar or any survival gear—and intended to make their way by magnetic compass alone. The author’s goal was to “roll the pole”—an “aerobatic gesture” that entails inverting the aircraft while directly over the magnetic north pole, something no one had ever done before. However, a persistent engine problem they couldn’t confidently diagnose compelled them to abort the trip. Taylor, though, never gave up on his dream and made two other attempts in 1979 and 1980. The author vividly describes all three attempts and the challenges posed not only by the inhospitable elements, but by the distance between his eagerness for adventure and responsible preparation. More than a pilot’s tale, this is an account of the insatiable ambition for more, a candidly personal chronicle in the spirit of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Airman’s Odyssey. The author explains that his “memoir is not all about airplanes. It’s about a few people and their relationships. It’s about some ambitions, dreams, sacrifices and failures. And, in a loosely framed way, it’s about their achievements and how those achievements led to other challenges.” Taylor’s account is a gripping one, told with humor and without a whiff of gratuitous melodrama. Also, his philosophical asides are intriguing, especially regarding the reasons he’s so powerfully drawn to the “experience of isolation and imminent peril.” This is an engagingly thoughtful book about the lust for life and the sometimes-inscrutable form such a lust assumes. 

A thrilling account of a dangerous but tantalizing aspiration.

Pub Date: May 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9987528-1-5

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Full Quark Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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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

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