Even the most confirmed armchair travelers will find themselves infected with wanderlust after reading this irresistible...

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Oh, the places you’ll go and the things you’ll see in this debut collection of travel essays.

Simpson offers a lively, inventive, and often hilarious book about her around-the-world adventures. In the first chapter, she double-dog-dares readers to plunge into “A world of bloated goats, warm Coca-Cola, dust facials, and unpredictable sleeping arrangements.” But she adds, somewhat reassuringly, that all is never lost, and that “a native might mysteriously whip out a plasma screen TV and hook it up to some dude’s gold tooth.” The book takes readers on a harrowing tour of a massive Bolivian prison, then island-hops among the assorted Edens of Fiji. Most memorable, perhaps, is a hazardous journey that ends at a hush-hush nirvana deep in the Laotian jungle. All the while, like a blissed-out scout leader, the author implores readers to go now, before all the hidden places are discovered; she’s only writing about the Laotian experience, she says, because it’s already on the Web. Some of her travel stories are more mundane than others; for example, her tale of her stint in the London school system as a sex-and-drug counselor doesn’t seem travel-related enough, nor does her story of picking apples in New Zealand. Still, she usually finds something to write about, no matter the circumstance. How lax is airport security in Fiji?: “I felt like I could have worn a marijuana jacket with a hat made out of dynamite sticks and carried in a bag full of teenagers with price tags stuck to their foreheads.” Still, she never lets readers forget that travel isn’t all Thai sticks, sweet sex, and cocktails on the beach; one chapter here is titled “Death and Vomit.” But she impresses on readers over and over that the benefits far outweigh the discomfort. Although she’s apparently incapable of penning a dull sentence, Simpson does occasionally overwrite (“If there’s a rock ledge, it will make out with my forehead”), but complaining about so much verbal showmanship seems churlish. Indeed, this is the sort of book that one hopes to stumble onto every time one browses the nonfiction section at a local library.

Even the most confirmed armchair travelers will find themselves infected with wanderlust after reading this irresistible compilation.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9968566-0-7

Page Count: 362

Publisher: Drunk Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2016

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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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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