Saucy guide to and social history of a wine-making village in France, first published in France in 1988 and then in Britain in 1992. Loftus is a wine merchant, hotelier, restaurateur, and writer of wine catalogs as well of as other books published overseas. Millionaires from around the world, Loftus tells us, vie for tiny allocations of the fabulous, hideously expensive white burgundies of Puligny-Montrachet—wines whose scent is ``a mixture of fresh straw and ripe peaches, an earthy intensity underlying the elegance, suggestions of woodsmoke, of honey and of freshly sawn oak.'' The small, stony vineyards that produce the rival burgundies of the area were first cultivated by monks many centuries ago. The characters of these wines, Loftus says, stem as much from the complexities in temperament of the owners as from variations in the pungency of the soil. The author, a passionate taster, finds infinite gradations in the ever-shifting flavors in vintages (``Ramonet...reminded me of rich quince and apple pie, complete with cloves''). A late burst of sunshine before harvesting, he says, can lend a wine serious promise. Judging by Loftus, rivalry between the local vineyards of small, sleepy Puligny and even smaller nearby Chassagne runs deep, with a peculiarly French animus, though much of Puligny's produce is owned and managed by outsiders while Chassagne is still owned by locals. A year in Burgundy with Loftus, when set beside a year in Provence with Peter Mayle, is like comparing a splendid, quite noble vintage to dreary table wine—Mayle lacks acidity, richness of character, and fruitiness. We enter many cellars here—though the cellars in Puligny are above ground because of the very high water table—meet the village folk, and follow the year's rhythms and yields, with sharply etched portraits of landowners and townspeople alike. Lofty but fun, with 34 very fine, personal photographs taken by the author.
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)