CONFIDING

A PSYCHOTHERAPIST AND HER PATIENTS SEARCH FOR STORIES TO LIVE BY

A telling look into the pained hearts and confused minds of the mentally ill, by the author of The Dinosaur Man (1991). Baur operates in the belief that psychotherapy is a way of helping patients learn to construct better stories about their lives—more complete, coherent, and convincing stories that, in reinterpreting their pasts, also open up new paths for the future. This isn't a new theory, but she illuminates it by relating her attempts (not always successful) to do therapy with severely ill patients: the delusional, the hostile, the hopeless. Not only does Baur try to help her patients become better storytellers, but she, in her role as therapist, also exemplifies the art of listening at its best, finding the sense underneath seemingly incoherent ramblings. Her patients include suicidal Charlie Isabella, who tantalizes her with his gentle but rare smile, and Angie Savalonis, a wild woman who years earlier had lost her boyfriend in a motorcycle accident. But two-thirds of the way through her book, Baur veers off into a polemic against current modes of treatment— or mistreatment—of the mentally ill by therapists who impose their own stories on patients, labeling them ``aggressive,'' ``schizophrenic,'' and the like, instead of sounding out the source of their individual pain. Although she raises valid, even disturbing, issues, Baur loses her readers when she categorizes such patients as ``eccentrics'' rebelling against society's strictures. In the end it is the patients themselves who command our attention, for the almost poetic, and sometimes remarkably lucid, ways they have of describing their own torment. Frenetic T.M. bemoans the ``black crab nebula death'' that awaits him; institutionalized Rosina Venuto writes, ``I pray, but God is too smart to hang around this place;'' Lloyd Bartlett, semi-aware that his world is peopled with fantasy characters, says, ``It is extremely disconcerting to doubt the contents of your own mind.'' Better when practicing than when preaching, Baur is insightful, compassionate, and wise.

Pub Date: June 2, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-018238-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1994

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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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