Nickell tells the story of her long road through addiction and abuse in this inspirational debut memoir.
The title’s reference is to a photo of the author at age 4, which she keeps in her own wallet. The picture serves a dual purpose: to remind Nickell to love herself, and to avoid the destructive thought patterns that were developing when the picture was taken. “I remind her that she matters, that I will always care for her to the best of my ability,” Nickell writes in the book’s preface, “but that she’s not calling the shots anymore.” The author relates that she had an alcoholic father and emotionally abusive mother; she herself started drinking early and she lost her virginity during an inebriated blackout. Her stepfather, she says, would send her to school with joints to sell, and he regularly exposed himself to her. She was on her own by 14, and she got married at 17, when she was three months pregnant, to a man who abused her, she writes. One altercation, involving a thrown lighter, left Nickell legally blind. A series of drug offenses resulted in jail time, and it was only then that she began her journey toward recovery—and a Christian relationship with God. In this book, Nickell charts her long struggle to reach a level of financial and emotional security, buoyed by therapy and religious faith. Her prose is consistently candid and gritty, as in this passage, in which she describes a diagnosis of “body rot” at a rehab center: “I had abused myself, had allowed others to abuse me, and for years, I had deprived myself of food and sleep. My regular body functions were shutting down. I was very, very tired.” It’s a remarkable story, overall—not just because of what Nickell went through, but also because of what she was able to achieve: She owns and operates a highly profitable bakery business. Nickell speaks of God often, but she also discusses the psychological work that she put in to improve and forgive herself, making this a useful book for both religious and secular readers.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
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)