An engaging and informative portrait of a visually impaired person’s life.




In this posthumous debut memoir, Marafito, with co-author Odubayo Thompson, offers an account of an independent and determined woman who refused to let severely limited eyesight define her.

The author was born in 1933 in the New York City borough of the Bronx. By the time she was 4 years old, she’d undergone numerous surgeries, aimed at saving her sight. Still, one eye remained totally sightless, and the other afforded only minimal vision. Unwilling to be limited by her disability, she quickly learned “the gentle art of bluffing,” which built her self-confidence: “As far as I was concerned, no one had to know I couldn’t see just like anyone else.” With the help of special programs at the city’s public schools, and her own drive to succeed, Marafito excelled, entering high school early at the age of 11. She began participating in recreational programs at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Manhattan; years later, she would meet her future husband, Jerry, there. They would go on to have two children, and eventually, they opened their own business—a newsstand at the Croton Harmon commuter railroad station in Westchester, New York—which they maintained for several decades. Odubayo Thompson is the eldest of Marafito’s two daughters, who was also born with partial vision, giving her a unique perspective of the challenges faced by her parents. She crafted this memoir from her mother’s extensive notes, discovered after her death. As a result, it’s written from Marafito’s first-person perspective, including a whimsical account of her own demise. However, it’s far more than just an accumulation of the specifics of a life well lived. It offers humorous and poignant anecdotes as it reveals what everyday existence is like for a person with limited vision. For example, here’s a description of a walk down Gun Hill Road after a snowstorm: “Curbs and sidewalks were lost in a collage of pink and purple bubbles, and more than once I found myself veering off into the depths of even more treacherous terrain.” Family photographs enhance the pleasantly conversational narrative.

An engaging and informative portrait of a visually impaired person’s life.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73220-961-9

Page Count: 398

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


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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