Some entertaining moments amid the tedium, but best saved for a reader’s retirement years, either as inspiration or to fill...



A retired British couple takes their canal boat on a cross-Channel expedition.

When some pesky person asked why the author and wife Monica had abandoned the quiet pensioners’ life and taken to the waterways, Darlington explained it as “an adventure before it’s too late. They say at our age you are at the end of vigour.” This became something of a running joke during their travels, since this lively pair was obviously far from decrepit. After all, they were adventurous enough to accept a friend’s booze-soaked challenge to sail through England and across the Channel to France, then wind their way to Carcassonne in their 60-foot by 7-foot narrowboat, “a preposterous shape” for attempting this never-accomplished feat of seamanship. As company, they took along their trusty whippet Jim, “a dog that hates boating.” Though the setup seems to promise a lighthearted travelogue, and Darlington does occasionally display a bracing, dry wit, their journey was often colored by bleak memories of the destruction and suffering the author witnessed as a child during World War II. In one the most moving instances of emotionally charged reminiscence, Darlington felt the presence of his long-dead father and longed “to press my face against his rough air-force trousers, and smell the tobacco and feel his hands on my head.” Unfortunately, those moments of luminosity are rare in a text more notable for overblown vacation babble, long-winded stories, grand overstatement and pompous bombast—plus some daunting British slang impenetrable to all but the most seasoned Anglophile. Boat enthusiasts will appreciate the insider terminology about locks and dock life, however, and Darlington’s gentle swipes at the French (whom he quite likes) are mildly amusing.

Some entertaining moments amid the tedium, but best saved for a reader’s retirement years, either as inspiration or to fill a lot of spare time.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-34208-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delta

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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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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