Anderson's writing on the South (where he lived late in his life), much of it obscure or previously unpublished, illuminates the writer more than the region. The selected fiction, essays, memoirs, and journalism, edited by Taylor (English/Univ. of Richmond) and Modlin (English/Virginia Polytechnic Inst.), offer insight into the artistic modus operandi of the author of Winesburg, Ohio and showcase the native Midwesterner's distrust of intellectualism. In ``How I Ran a Small-Town Newspaper,'' Anderson offers a prescription for journalism that represents a fair summation of his fictional technique: ``We . . . have too much the inclination toward what I think of as `big thinking' when what we really want and need is more color, more interest taken in just our own daily lives.'' Anderson practiced a uniquely lighthearted, creative brand of small-town journalism (inventing a fictional staff of reporters, including the famous Buck Fever) while challenging such hallowed southern givens as the purity of white womanhood and the opposition to all things northern. He himself engaged the big issues of the day—industrialization, unionization, and Depression hardship- -infrequently and only so far as they affected the daily lives of workers. The bulk of the material consists of humorous sketches and newspaper and magazine articles that are more impressionistic than objective. Anderson alternately romanticized the South (waxing lyrical about the dignity of poor whites and blacks, the beauty of southern nights) and defended the little folks—mill workers, tobacco farmers, hill people—he thought exploited by big business. Still, his outlook is basically optimistic, his approach evenhanded. As moderator of the famous 1930 debate between John Crowe Ransom (leader of the Agrarian movement) and Stringfellow Barr (a Virginia Quarterly editor who advocated industrialism), Anderson tellingly characterized himself as ``a little worm . . . in the fair apple of progress.'' A notable, if uneven, addition to the Anderson legacy.
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)