PINK-ON-PINK

WRITING MY WAY THROUGH BREAST CANCER

Werth’s debut about her battle with breast cancer is a mix of prose and poetry that’s part autobiography, part memoir, part journal and part self-help guide for others facing similar “faith walks.”

On a particularly sunny, life-affirming spring day, Werth drove to her dentist’s office with the sunroof open, had her teeth cleaned, unexpectedly ran into her radiologist of the past 20 years, ran errands, went hiking with friends, enjoyed a picnic lunch, had a “serendipitous routine” mammography, was forced by traffic to run over a woodchuck and learned she had stage III, triple-negative breast cancer—an especially aggressive subtype of the disease. It was, as they say, the best of times and the worst of times rolled into one 24-hour period of the 62-year-old’s life. Her reaction to the news was to do what she’s always done at seminal moments in her life—to write. The words flowed throughout her “frightening and unfamiliar” journey into breast cancer. A self-described realist, Werth jumps right on the “Cancer Express” and takes the reader along for the visceral ride. She writes, “I must go forward…I cannot avoid the inevitable…It is what it is (one of my favorite clichés). The woodchuck is dead, and I have cancer.” Willing to have those difficult discussions about the “c” word, Werth goes to the places and topics most people refuse to visit. But this is not a tale of doom and gloom. Yes, there is fear, doubt and momentary anger, but those emotions are accompanied by hope, humor and gratitude as Werth discovers how to live in the moment and find the beauty, fragrance and delight of every day on Earth. Werth’s at her literary best in the prose sections; her recollections of her grandmother, who had “two radical mastectomies” 53 years earlier, quickly draw the reader in thanks to vivid images of the people, places and scars of that faraway time. Less enjoyable are Werth’s forays into poetry. It’s not that she’s not a good writer; it’s that the poems seem disjointed, incongruent and sometimes random. While traveling through the prose is a smooth, easy ride, venturing through the poems can feel cumbersome and laborious. For those on their own unfamiliar, scary voyage with cancer, this book will likely inspire, comfort and perhaps motivate them to journal their way through the disease.  

 

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1929581009

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Creative Energies

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

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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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