A decadeslong friendship between the writer and his former father-in-law, revealed in a collection of letters, notes and transcripts.
Only three years separate Dark and Shepard, and in this engaging correspondence, we see the evolution of their relationship. They were buddies earlier, and they remained close despite Shepard’s rise to celebrity as a playwright and actor. Oddly, neither seems to have thought about going online (computers are not mentioned), so—except for the transcriptions of taped conversations—the volume has the feel of an earlier age. Editor Hammett notes that he has not assembled a complete collection but has edited heavily, arranging the pieces to tell a narrative, excising what he deemed repetitive or excessively quotidian (though some of the latter remains). The correspondence from both parties is rich with allusions to the writers they admire—principally Kerouac and Beckett, though many others appear as well, including Melville, Lardner, C.S. Lewis, Saroyan, Chekhov and Dickey. They write occasionally about money (the lack thereof) and about writing. The title comes from a play they began working on together but never finished. (One transcript records an initial plotting session.) Health issues occur continually (Dark’s wife declines as the book progresses), as do comments about life and writing. In 2008, Shepard wrote: “I continue to write because basically that’s all I’ve found I can really do.” Shepard’s career ignited, he wrote more often about his travels, his film and stage projects, and his relationship with actress Jessica Lange. And Dark becomes more of a fan than a potential literary collaborator. By the end, they are discussing the very letters project that became the book.
A bright pathway directly into the hearts and minds of two compelling men.
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)