A rambling love letter to ports, shipping, and all manner of seafaring myth and romance.
Inspired by a magical night in Massawa, Eritrea, in 1997, Australian writer McCamish decides to “plan a trip into the past” by exploring ports around the world. It's not so easy to bum around the ocean these days, but determination and the services of a travel agent who specializes in cargo travel land our hero on the Anneke Schliemann, a “Luxembourg flagged container ship on route to the Levant.” It makes assorted stops, including Athens, Beirut, and Lattakia, Syria, but the lion's share of McCamish's observations are reserved for his relations with the crew and his one fellow passenger. After docking in Calabria, the author then flies to the Canary Islands, where he boards another cargo vessel, the Van Riebeeck, this one traveling to southern Africa. Again, McCamish is assiduous in describing shipboard life; he details the crew's bar with its bachelor-pad decor, the engine room with its 53,000-horsepower engine, and the odd relationships he strikes up with sailors who spend most of their lives on this floating warehouse. Then, in Mauritius, he boards the Anna Bohme, a container carrier bound for India, and a similar round of observations begins yet again. Ultimately, ports play a small role in the work, as the author ends up spending almost all of his time on board the ships and thus has difficulty getting to know those seaside towns that defy discovery for the brief moments ashore. He does, however, have an extensive pool of travel-writers he is fond of quoting and lards his tale with the words of Twain, Hemingway, Conrad, Kerouac, and numerous others.
Like many of the places McCamish visits, this promises romance that is rarely delivered.
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)
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").