As the Soviet Union collapses, young Briton MacLean accompanies his German Aunt Zita on a rueful trip through Mitteleuropa. The journey is funny, helpless, hopeless, and, finally, haunting. Two generations after Isherwood, MacLean leaves Germany in a battered Trabant with his widowed aunt and a pet pig named Winston (the Orwellian connection is apt). The Old Lady, the Young Journalist, and the Porcine Muse journey from the Rhineland through Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania to this chronicle's heart of this darkness—the Kremlin and the tomb of Lenin. It all reads like a gazetteer of Central Europe, with place names in which vowels are optional. There are swift changes of scene, and one character rapidly replaces another. Germans and Russians, Magyars and Slavs, folk named Panni, Pappi, and Dinu entertain Aunt Zita, nephew Rory, and swine Winston. Over halpaprik†s and apricot schnapps, individual tales of war, hot and cold, are recounted, including personal histories of the Hungarian Revolution, the Prague Spring, and the end of the cold war. There's a particularly moving account of what happened at Auschwitz, and one person observes that ``It's been going downhill here since the Middle Ages.'' The writing is occasionally too easily excited (``an ancient man in a trilby with a long white beard'') or fruity (``the air of his saxophone drifted on the puszta as sleep overcame us''), and no xenophobic skinheads or neo-Nazis show up. But the observations are sharp, the humor is black, and the Weltschmerz goes back to Vlad the Impaler. It's not always easy, traveling with this Occidental tourist through the Eastern bloc, but, ultimately, the trip is a memorable souvenir of postwar Europe.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-316-54239-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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