An erudite charmer documents his ongoing adventures in love and culture through 80-plus years “in the life”—from Rittenhouse Square to London’s West End.
First-time author Gordon’s breezy autobiography begins with a caution to the reader: “If concepts like Hopeless Romantic, Love at First Sight or Head Over Heels make you nauseous, this book is definitely not for you.” Born to working-class Russian-Jewish immigrants in 1920s Philadelphia, Gordon, née Samuel Grodsky, knew early on that he was different; after unrequited crushes on neighbor boys and desperate trips to the library to read Havelock Ellis, the amiable young man ambles into what would eventually become a lucrative career in optometry and a truly amazing life story. He marries, divorces, dabbles and dithers, marries again, has a son and eventually realizes he’s gay. Then the fun begins; cruising, swank Hollywood parties, lots of sex, the pursuit of love (a recurring theme), glamorous midcentury gay New York, Broadway semitriumphs and tragedies, lots more sex and love (with the titular husbands) and a graceful slide into vigorous middle age and beyond. The book chronicles Gordon’s long and mostly absurdly happy life to date with stylish candor and humility. His engaging prose is chatty without being catty, and sexy without being sleazy; better still, he tells his tale of fabulousness without resorting to the bland narcissism that sully many memoirs—especially the happy ones. There’s no false modesty, but neither is there boasting or gratuitous name-dropping. Even when he dishes on celebs such as Tallulah Bankhead or Lawrence Harvey, it’s more wittily self-deprecating than vicious. Gordon’s is a fascinating life, and his boundless joy at his good fortune is genuine—and contagious. The only thing his book lacks is pictures.
An instant classic of its kind (i.e., Christopher’s kind) and required reading for inquisitive young queers, dyspeptic old conservatives and just about anyone who has a heart.
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)