AMERICAN CHARACTERISTICS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

The three-part title essay here is Wilder's reworking of sections from his 1950 Norton lectures at Harvard — and, though hardly profound, it shows Wilder at his most topsyturvy thoughtful and folksy-smart eloquent. His theme is the independent, "disconnected" American personality, how it changed literature's English English into American English. And, from his opening gambit ("When I think of those who founded this country I soon find myself thinking of those who did not come") through discussions of Thoreau, Whitman, and Moby Dick ("The first eleven pages . . . are the worst kind of English English"), he's endearingly provocative, at his very best on Emily Dickinson: she "enjoyed many a witches' sabbath with the language"; her forms of speech are those of "a winning child . . . the bright remarks that set the dinner table laughing"; and when she suddenly stops rhyming, "the effect is as of a ceiling being removed from above our heads." But the other 200+ pages here, alas, are on a much lover level: dated dramatic theory; an ode to Oedipus Rex and a so-so putdown of Shaw ("he could only think by ricochet"); mild toyings with Goethe and Joyee; pedantic glosses on the work of friend Gertrude Stein; eulogies and (!) research papers. A weak potpourri, then, not quite justified by that one grand essay.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1979

ISBN: 158348387X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1979

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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