Landry (Alive with Passion and Purpose, 2009) and Boye (Prophetic Intern, 2013) tell the true story of Effie Jones, prophetess and evangelist.
Born in Baxter, La., in the early 20th century, Effie was one of five children in an African-American sharecropper’s family. Her mother, with whom she was especially close, died of tuberculosis when Effie was 7, leaving her lonely. Things got even worse when an unloving stepmother entered their family. Effie’s hours in the fields mainly profited her white boss, so she also made crossties for the railroad to make extra money, and she was outperforming the men by the time she was 17. She married Jimmy, the first of six husbands, to break away from her family and her job, and this began an odyssey that took her from place to place, and from man to man, as she tried to escape abuse and unhappiness. She eventually moved west, to California, in an attempt to start over. Throughout her life, Effie said that she was visited by spirits and angels who saved her more than once, and she never lost her faith in God despite her hardships. Effie’s touching, engrossing tale is aimed at a Christian audience that may see her experiences as parables, but it may please other readers as well—particularly those who are interested in the lives of African-Americans prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Her later relationship with Boye offers a clear portrait of Effie in old age, but Boye has a story of her own, which includes divorced parents and an alcoholic grandmother. However, her story is less compelling than Effie’s, and some readers may wonder why the authors chose to move the spotlight away from Effie at all. Boye’s questions and promptings to Effie lead to asides and explanations that are sometimes helpful, but they’re more often unnecessary, and may pull readers out of the mood created by Effie’s fine storytelling voice.
An often engaging portrayal of a remarkable African-American woman.
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)
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").