A memorable hybrid of heartfelt memoir and fond commemoration framed in Caribbean history, familial turmoil, and...


A journalist reflects on his New Jersey childhood and the nurturing Jamaican nanny who raised him.

Urken’s resonant debut memoir doubles as a biographical tribute to Dezna Sanderson, the “Jamaican Mary Poppins” who helped raise him for over a decade. As the doting family nanny, Sanderson emerged as the saving grace in a Jewish household fractured by dysfunction from his parents’ tumultuous “screaming matches” as well as drug addiction and mental illness. Since her arrival in 1988, Sanderson became Urken’s anchor, a sweet, sage mother figure whose own Seventh-day Adventist sumptuary laws nicely mirrored Jewish restrictions. As generous as she was in her caregiving for the author and his sister, Nicole, she remained reserved about her own background. Urken writes with clarity and intense focus about his indebtedness to Sanderson, who was “like a protective buffer,” and he shares many treasured memories of their time together. This fondness continued into his adulthood until the devastating news of Sanderson’s death in 2010. Eager to discover and honor more of her heritage, the author traveled to Jamaica. Despite tight-lipped family members, he launched a cross-cultural exploration of her life in Mahogany Hill, seeking “to find the root of her strong voice to understand my own.” Urken immersed himself in Jamaica’s history of political unrest involving the CIA’s covert military invasion of the region in the 1970s and the ensuing economic destabilization, which sabotaged the Sanderson family’s pineapple plantation. Many fled the region, and Sanderson, despite birthing eight children, wound up on the Urkens’ doorstep. A family visit to Sanderson’s gravesite forms one of the memoir’s more poignant scenes. The author’s memories and descriptions of Sanderson are aptly adulatory in honoring a cherished, compassionate caregiver who, in large part, is responsible for the man he has become today.

A memorable hybrid of heartfelt memoir and fond commemoration framed in Caribbean history, familial turmoil, and unconditional maternal love.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-976-828-604-8

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Ian Randle Publishers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2019

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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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