An insightful effort to bring some clarity to an incomprehensible wartime catastrophe.

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A LIFE REBUILT

THE REMARKABLE TRANSFORMATION OF A WAR ORPHAN

In this debut memoir, a woman recalls her childhood escape from Europe after the Nazis murdered her parents and the traumatic aftermath. 

Gutmann was born in 1939 in Belgium, only months after her Jewish parents were forced into exile from their home in Berlin, fleeing the Nazis. They lived in hiding but were ultimately discovered by Vichy agents. In 1942, when the author was 3 years old, she and her mother and two older sisters were held captive at an internment camp in France. Her mother was then shipped to Auschwitz, where both of Gutmann’s parents were eventually killed. “In the face of the unknown,” the author writes, “Mama made a heart-wrenching choice to leave us behind with a stranger who promised to save our lives.” The author and her siblings were furtively sent to Switzerland by this mysterious woman. Gutmann stayed with an aunt in Zurich before leaving for New York by boat with her sisters in 1946. The author lived with her Uncle Sam and Aunt Gerdy and was ordered to forget her harrowing past. A second-grade teacher—at 7, Gutmann had never attended school before—accused her of lying when she spoke frankly of her travails. And Gerdy was mercilessly cruel, physically and verbally abusive. The author sought solace in the arms of exploitive men, and by 23 had weathered a string of failed relationships and two abortions. When her sister Rita, whom she idolized, died after a long illness in 1993, Gutmann was compelled to confront the pain of a lost childhood. In the hope of finding emotional resolution, she traveled to Germany and France, attempting to find the woman who had saved her life. The author’s story is heart-rending, told with an unflinching confessional candor (Recalling the stressful voyage to New York, she writes: “To every woman on the ship who looks kindly at me, I plead, ‘Will you be my mommy?’ ”). She delicately depicts the psychological fallout of the Holocaust—those who survived were pulverized by guilt, and the resources necessary to help them didn’t really exist. As one of Gutmann’s therapists explained, “For three decades, the traumatized survivors and guilt-ridden American Jews, who regretted that they had not done more to rescue their brethren, were frozen in silence.” This is an achingly beautiful account that includes emotionally affecting personal photographs. 

An insightful effort to bring some clarity to an incomprehensible wartime catastrophe.

Pub Date: July 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944037-95-6

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Epigraph Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2018

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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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