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SELECTED WRITINGS 1990-2010

An assortment of essays, reviews, and excerpts from British travel writer and biographer Wheeler (The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle, 2012, etc.).

Spanning 20 years (1990–2010), the pieces are loosely organized around a number of different themes, such as recollections from her earliest travels (most notably as a 20-year-old in Poland in 1981) and her first excursions into the polar regions (an interest that has spawned two travel books, a biography and a children’s book). She has a number of short biographical essays on others, including reviews of biographies of travel writers she admired. Wheeler also examines some much more mundane adventures, including learning to belly dance in a gym near her apartment and climbing into bed with a catalog from Argos, the U.K. department-store chain, which she claims is one of only a few activities that “guarantee pleasure.” While this collection has its high points—for example, her early travel writing—it also has the unfortunate effect of highlighting the problems with Wheeler’s work. For example, she falls backs on the phrase “tweed-skirted Victorian[s]” to describe two different 19th-century travel writers, Mary Kingsley and Isabella Bird, in two different essays published five years apart. In the introduction, she asks, “Don’t you sometimes find daily life almost unbearably poetic?” Unfortunately, most of her prose is flat and declamatory, lacking the poetic details she claims to love. At the same time, her brief biographies of other travel writers often serve to drive home the point that there are much more interesting travel writers out there.

Uneven and mostly bland.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-86547-877-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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