SIGNAL GRACE

A daughter remembers her father as memory combines with love and forgiveness to create a touching debut memoir. 

Yates, now in her early 30s, tells it like it is. Her family split by divorce—which happened when she was 3—and geography, she grew up yearning for connection. She and her father “never managed to be close, as fathers and daughters are supposed to be,” she recalls. “We didn’t giggle together or share little jokes, we didn’t really even see each other that often.” Her parents separately lived in various U.S. cities, and her father’s Army career meant international postings as well. Yates lived with her mother and younger brother, and she called her dad Michael: “When he was gone, I couldn’t think of him as ‘dad’ because it hurt too much to miss him.” Her yearned-for connection intensified when she lived with her father during her senior year at Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, Texas. After her own brief marriage, while still a student Texas A&M, violently blew up, her father helped her file legal protection orders, but she still felt alone: “I had, quite simply, no idea what constituted a good man.” Despite the chaos—which Yates describes in graceful, readable prose—she began noticing hopeful signs. “There is a name. Catholics call it a ‘signal grace.’ It’s a sign that God’s listening to you and directing you all the time. You see these moments by the grace of God. It indicates that you’re on the right path and that God is helping and guiding you.” Her sign is a shamrock, and after Michael’s death in 2010, unexpected shamrock-sightings comforted her: “I was flooded, over and through, by gratitude and forgiveness; they rinsed away the grime of mistakes and judgment like a baptism, and made me feel radiant in flowing peace.” Cynics might be quick to lump this life story in with the recent glut of early age memoirs, but better than most, this story achingly portrays a family severed by divorce and encourages the healing of hearts. Yates keeps a strict focus on the father-daughter dynamic, and the “signal grace” idea is only brought toward the end, so it shouldn’t deter casual, irreligious readers. A well-crafted, compelling account of how one confused little girl grew up and learned to live with her past by seeing signs of God’s grace.

 

Pub Date: June 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989223201

Page Count: 216

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more