A thought-provoking, if somewhat limited, exploration of race relations.

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THE ROOM

A RACIAL JOURNEY

In this debut memoir, a white Southerner uses his own life experiences to explore race and racism in the United States.

In mid-20th-century Orlando, Florida, Mullen had virtually no personal relationships with African-American people. Although he was uncomfortable with the casual racism that he observed in some friends and family members, he rarely spoke out about it. Indeed, he says that he was frequently confounded by the contradictions of his fellow Southerners. His friend’s father, for instance, claimed to have committed a heinous act of racist violence, but he also supportively mentored a black employee; Mullen’s grandmother was a Christian woman who greeted the news of the shooting of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by saying, “Good, I hope he dies.” The author’s understanding of race, he says, was largely based in the world of sports, where his admiration for such heroes as Hank Aaron was mixed with confusion: Aaron’s “life was perfect,” the author thought, “so why was he complaining about racism?” By the time Mullen graduated from high school in the mid-1970s, he’d only conversed with one African-American person, but his entry into the Army changed that. During his basic training and later service in Germany, he was in close contact with black contemporaries, and he found their exchanges enlightening; the “Room” of the title is his German quarters, which he shared with five other soldiers—four black and one white. Mullen voices common misapprehensions and insecurities of white people who have little contact with people of color, such as why some black people use the N-word but abhor its use by others. (Indeed, this word seems to appear in the text more often than absolutely necessary.) Readers may think that some statements, such as “I could sense the black person size me up and…give me a passing grade on their personal bigotry scale,” seem naïve and self-aggrandizing. However, Mullen does capture some truths about the fear and guilt that prevents many white people from easily confronting the topic of racism. It’s disappointing, though, when he notes that his later life included few real friendships with African-Americans.

A thought-provoking, if somewhat limited, exploration of race relations.

Pub Date: March 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9997023-1-4

Page Count: 357

Publisher: Ruebob Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

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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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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