At once stimulating and warmhearted, with sentences of drop-dead beauty and acuity on nearly every page.

READ REVIEW

LIVING, THINKING, LOOKING

ESSAYS

Another superb essay collection from novelist Hustvedt (The Summer without Men, 2011, etc.).

As in her previous collections, Yonder (1998) and A Plea for Eros (2006), the author trains a formidable intellect on difficult subjects (the structure of the brain, the nature of perception) with an engaging personal touch that invites a general readership. In “Excursions to the Islands of the Happy Few,” though she acknowledges the need for specialized vocabulary and research, she regrets the “culture of hyperfocus and expertise” in which “people inhabit disciplinary islands of the like-educated and the like-minded.” Hustvedt, by contrast, has a doctorate in English literature, has written extensively about art and has lectured at neuroscience conferences and at the Sigmund Freud Foundation. The categories invoked in her title—personal essays (Living), intellectual puzzles (Thinking), investigations of art (Looking)—indicate her broad scope; their underlying unity rests on Hustvedt’s consuming interest in connections: between emotion and intellect, memory and imagination, mother and child, artist and audience. Embodied, employed both as a verb and adjective, is a favored word, and it’s no accident that she mentions several times a 1996 neuroscience paper that identified certain “mirror neurons” that fire in the cerebral cortex of macaque monkeys performing a specific physical action and that also fire in monkeys observing the action. She is fascinated by the link between what we do and what we see and by the noncorporeal but nonimaginary spaces where human beings interact emotionally and intellectually. Frequent anecdotes about her extended family and her childhood illustrate her points and lower the intimidation factor; Hustvedt addresses a broad public without dumbing down her material. There are no weak essays here, but some of the best concern art, particularly those on Goya and Louise Bourgeois, whose work provides particularly fertile soil for Hustvedt’s exploration of the “electrical connection [that] takes place between the viewer and the image seen.”

At once stimulating and warmhearted, with sentences of drop-dead beauty and acuity on nearly every page.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00952-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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

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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

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