An intense, deftly composed cancer narrative.



A man recalls his college battle with leukemia in this debut memoir.

February 1990. College junior Brown was enjoying a year abroad in Lancaster, England, when he felt uncharacteristically winded after a mile-long jog: “It’s been at least the past few days—or maybe closer to a week, I don’t know—that I’ve been feeling more beaten down than normal. Nothing obvious, nothing specific, just steadily higher levels of crushing fatigue.” Then the bruises started appearing on his body: on his calf, his thighs, his right hand. There was blood in his spit and then in his urine. A visit to the school infirmary turned into a trip to the local hospital, where samples were taken and tests were done. After a few days, he received the news: He had leukemia. He was quickly flown home to Seattle to undergo treatment—his condition, acute myeloid leukemia, was particularly fast-acting—including chemotherapy and bone marrow biopsies. Then more chemo. As this happened, Brown was visited by his family and friends from high school, causing him to look back on his memories with renewed gratitude for what he had seen and done. Throughout, he had his doctor’s words on his life expectancy at the front of his mind: “Your odds aren’t ten percent, or twenty, or even fifty. You either survive or you don’t. Period.” Brown’s writing is lively and lyrical, with moments of intense description offset by humorous ones. He often imagines his life as though it were being made into a film: “This brief hospital stay in London is as good a place as any for a rapidly-edited montage. No words necessary, saving the cost of paying actors and actresses portraying the hospital staff for speaking lines in what, ultimately, will be a cameo appearance in my life.” The author’s bout with leukemia was relatively compressed (though subsequent brain infections required a second hospitalization), allowing him to methodically document each development, treatment, and result. For those interested in seeing the toll leukemia can take on a young, healthy person, Brown’s account offers the details in searing prose.

An intense, deftly composed cancer narrative.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73315-900-5

Page Count: 285

Publisher: 3/3 Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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