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.
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").
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)