More than travel writing, this is a story of finding home.

EURYDICE STREET

A PLACE IN ATHENS

A wife and mother chronicles her move from England to Greece.

The author, whose Russian father met her mother on holiday in Greece, grew up in England and married a Greek man. They spent most of their marriage in the U.K. and Russia, but in the summer of 2001 moved with their two daughters to a suburb of Athens. In her debut memoir, which recalls Patricia Storace’s Dinner with Persephone (1996), Zinovieff recounts her family’s first year in Greece. An anthropologist by training, she brings a keen eye for detail to her lovely prose, e.g., a new highway in Athens was “like a soft, steaming slick of black treacle.” The most poignant theme here is the parenting of bilingual, bicultural kids. Zinovieff realized her family was really becoming Greek when, on her birthday, her girls serenaded her with the Greek equivalent of Happy Birthday (“May you live, little Mum, and grow old, with white hair”). She suspected that as her daughters acclimated to their new country, they would sometimes be embarrassed by her decidedly English customs. The difference between her English and Greek selves was captured by a change of name: In English she was known as Sofka Zinovieff; her Greek neighbors transformed Sofka into Sophia, and schoolchildren called her by her husband’s last name, Papadimitriou. By November, Zinovieff had started to feel rather comfortable in her new environs. She decided to apply for Greek citizenship, even though that promised a long tangle with the bureaucracy. Some aspects of Greek culture—chronic tardiness, for example—grated on her. But she appreciated Athens, a city where even the most urban, modern pockets could still rightly be called “neighborhoods.” She enjoyed getting to know her Greek in-laws and celebrating holidays like Easter in Greece; indeed, she enjoyed both the literal and metaphorical significance of having a new name.

More than travel writing, this is a story of finding home.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-86207-750-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granta UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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