An Australian radio correspondent’s cheekily observant chronicle of a few full-throttle years living and traveling in India.
Macdonald’s first brush with the subcontinent was not altogether promising; on the plane home, she gave “smog-swirled New Delhi the finger.” But a palm reader at the airport prophesized that she would return, and that she does, 11 years later, to be with her New Delhi–based news-correspondent boyfriend. India is still Wonderland: “In this other universe everyone seems mad and everything is upside down, back to front and infuriatingly bizarre.” Sacred cows huddle at busy intersections, “where they seem to chat away like the bulls of Gary Larson cartoons,” and “everyone seems to drive with one finger on the horn and another shoved high up a nostril.” It's sensory-overload time, yet the exuberance and energy tugs at Macdonald, beveling her tartness and getting her involved with the people. The mother of a friend welcomes her with “a hug and a gift of toe rings. . . . I love her immediately.” Jains, Parsis, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs all conduct her through their life ways. (“The communal kitchen is the Sikh faith's ‘up yours’ to the Hindu notion of caste.”) The author offers a smattering of theological discourse, but she’s more given to anecdotes about the oddments that mark her time, from the mystery of why her breasts grow to a wished-for larger size after a holy embrace to encounters with India’s real gods: movie stars. At times Macdonald lives like someone out of a Jane Austen novel, at others it seems that Grace Slick has sublet her brainspace, but India convinces her that “I kind of like being confused, wrestling with contradictions, and not having to wrap up issues in a minute.”
Not long on instruction, though Macdonald gets the other half of the travel-literature equation: vast entertainment.
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)