As accomplished and intelligent as the author’s fiction—which is saying a lot.

A PLEA FOR EROS

ESSAYS

Engaging collection of literary and personal essays, most previously published, from novelist Hustvedt (What I Loved, 2003, etc.).

The author’s single most impressive skill, evident in all the best pieces here, is the way she uses autobiography to illuminate more general points. In “Yonder,” which opens the volume, Hustvedt illustrates the importance of place in our imaginative lives with examples from her experiences as a Midwestern girl who spent considerable time in Norway (her mother’s native country) and who has now lived in New York for 27 years. The tender, wickedly funny “Living with Strangers” and the moving “9/11, or One Year Later” pay tribute to her adopted home by recalling some of the personal encounters that have shaped her delight in “the city of immigrants, of pluralism, and of tolerance.” The latter essay will strike a particular chord with all New Yorkers, as it evokes the intimate nature of their confrontation with the World Trade Center tragedy: “For weeks afterward, the first question we asked friends and neighbors…was: ‘Is your family all right? Did you lose anybody?’ ” She also draws on her life to buttress her argument in “A Plea for Eros” that “to pretend that ambiguity doesn’t exist in sexual relations is just plain stupid.” Hustvedt’s use of autobiographical material is so delicate and judicious that it never seems self-aggrandizing; it works just as well in literary essays like “Gatsby’s Glasses” or “Charles Dickens and the Morbid Fragment” as in the more journalistic entries. Her prose is elegant yet down-to-earth, in keeping with the democratic sympathies and substantive intellectual interests she displays throughout. Though the collection spans a decade (1995–2005), it is unified by the author’s voice: so direct and appealing that many readers will hope to one day bump into Hustvedt on the sidewalks of the Brooklyn neighborhood she lovingly describes in several pieces.

As accomplished and intelligent as the author’s fiction—which is saying a lot.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-42553-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more