Thirteen years of miscellaneous writing, some of it revelatory.



The film director and writer revisits his life and earlier work in this grab-bag essay collection.

In The Adderall Diaries (2009) and other writing, Rumpus founding editor Elliott has written of his troubled youth as a runaway from an abusive father and a homeless addict as well as the aftereffects that have lingered through his professional life. In one essay the author recalls his stint as a successful magazine writer. “I had quit taking speed for the most part, but only because it didn’t work anymore,” he writes. “I couldn’t focus and I was running out of money and I kept making plans and then giving up. I checked out war zones and interviewed celebrities and politicians, but none of it mattered.” Some of the best-written and fully realized pieces might be classified among the none that mattered, while Elliott seems more emotionally invested with the confessional essays: those about his masochistic fetishes and his cross-dressing, his desire for dominant women that is something other than sexual desire, his obsession with suicide (the “it” of the title, or at least of the essay “Sometimes I Think About Suicide”) and his frequent attempts, his ambivalence about his writing career and his lack of commercial success with it. “I try to write, but the work isn’t going well,” he writes. “I wonder if I am still a writer, and if I’m not a writer, what am I?” Other pieces reference his writing of the very essay the reader is reading. Elliott is unquestionably a talented writer—see his 2004 novel Happy Baby for ample evidence—but in this collection, that skill is most effectively applied to reporting, in which he is as heavily invested as he wants readers to become.

Thirteen years of miscellaneous writing, some of it revelatory.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55597-775-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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