IT'S ALIVE

HOW AMERICA'S OLDEST NEWSPAPER CHEATED DEATH AND WHY IT MATTERS

Executive editor Cuozzo offers a surprisingly dignified, un-Post-ian memoir of his paper's fight for survival and the tabloidization of the American media. In March 1993 the ailing New York Post was fighting for its life. With the end in sight, Cuozzo pulled out all the stops: ``We might be dead, world—but oh, baby, they'll remember how we went out! And if we're gonna die after 192 years, damn it, we're gonna rock!'' With this bitchin' battle cry, he and a ragged editorial staff coopted the Post's own pages to fight the bankruptcy court that had awarded its ownership to a ``buffoon'': The tabloid of Alexander Hamilton and Pete Hamill had been passed on to Abe Hirschfeld, a builder of open-air parking lots and Manhattan's Vertical Club gyms. The Times applauded the staff's brassy, pungent rebellion. It had taken a long time to get a good review from the traditional journalistic establishment. Thirteen years earlier, the Columbia Journalism Review had called then-owner Rupert Murdoch's in-your-face tabloid a ``force for evil.'' Cuozzo, who started at the Post as a copy boy in 1972, recounts its journalistic life under five different owners, focusing on Murdoch and real estate entrepreneur Peter Kalikow, who both operated the paper, says Cuozzo, as a symbol of their manhood. From the more sedate remove of his features department, Cuozzo celebrates the testosterone-filled newsroom. He tells how Murdoch brought in Aussie and Fleet Street brawlers and turned longtime owner Dorothy Schiff's ``stodgy'' liberal paper into the newspaper that humanized the news and ``put the nation back in touch with itself.'' Cuozzo mixes essays on the virtues of tabloids with colorful Post-iana, including the paper's famous headlines (500-lb. sex monster goes free) and its fierce take-no-prisoners rivalry with the New York Daily News. Cuozzo's is the account of an affable management mensch. It's a great story, but it might be fun to read a spicier version, one as thoroughly uninhibited as the newspaper it celebrates.

Pub Date: July 8, 1996

ISBN: 0-8129-2286-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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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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