A Greek national takes a humorously scathing look back at his student life in Great Britain.
Although the title suggests a recounting of erotic escapades, this debut is more of a compendium of quotations from literature, journalism and scholarship about the English character, rounded out with Doikas’ anecdotes of his experiences in England. Heavy drinking, emotional inexpressiveness and sexual repression all come in for criticism here, as do local colloquialisms (“innit should become the formal equivalent of n’est-ce pas”), the English climate and food and beverage horrors such as baked beans on toast. These are all well-known targets, and Doikas’ extensive quotations show that even the British often take aim at them. The author’s Greek perspective, however, is fresher, especially when he discusses generosity and reciprocity. He writes of a Greek concept, for example, that “represents a code of honor, a rectitude, that even villains are compelled to observe.” Doikas is apparently horrified when he overhears “a discussion between a young couple that had been living together for four years”; she wants to make a phone call, and he offers to lend (not give!) her the princely sum of 10 pence. Similarly, the author writes that the common English instruction to “bring your own booze” when going to a party was “most discordant with my home culture.” The book is at its best when it sticks to such scenes. However, Doikas’ humor can be heavy-handed at times, as when he cites the fictitious “Dr. Paulus Silentiarius,” who “graduated in Social Anthropology (Single Horns) with a First Clash degree from Onanistan’s renowned university of Loxford.” The book’s most glaring problem, though, is that it contains no references later than 1998. You’d never know, for example, that famous celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay exist, or that one of the most popular dishes in today’s Britain is chicken tikka masala. Did Doikas like anything about Britain? He does mention a few things, such as the postal system, taxis and public libraries, and when he watches sitcoms such as Blackadder, he feels “such a great gratitude for this nation that [he] could forgive them almost everything.”
An amusing, if somewhat dated, critique of British culture.
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)