A tender portrait of a clan coming into its own on the ocean.

Bluewater Walkabout

INTO AFRICA: FINDING HEALING THROUGH TRAVEL

A family sails from South Africa to the Caribbean in this debut memoir.

The travel bug bit Dreffin early when her mother routinely dragged her to the library. There, she fell in love with the idea of foreign lands. When she moved to Houston to become a real estate broker, she felt disconnected. She struggled to pay her bills and was sexually assaulted. Enter Peter: the brother of her older brother’s wife who kept popping up. Dreffin carried a list of qualities she sought in a man and always felt sparks around Peter. When she met him in Florida, something clicked. He asked her to sail to the Caribbean with him, she agreed, and they began a whirlwind romance, living on a boat. In 2002, when their sons, Adam and Warren, were teenagers, she floated the idea of a family “South Pacific Expedition.” This ambitious odyssey set them on a safari followed by a sailing trip from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, to Brazil. The journey took four months. On safari in Kruger National Park in northeastern South Africa, they spied magnificent beasts, coming close to an elephant protecting his young, a herd of 200 buffalos, and a leopard so beautiful it was like “feeling the presence of God.” After the band left Capetown, it soon headed into the ocean on a catamaran. The family saw whales break water, braved a rogue wave that nearly threw Dreffin overboard, and visited towns full of thriving cultures. For all of the thrills of intimately exploring nature, little danger befell the group. Dreffin’s writing is the strongest when unpacking difficult events, such as recounting the death of her daughter in utero or summoning the strength to face the rogue wave (“The demon had knocked me off my feet, leaving me in a tangle of spiraling limbs…I felt fear as never before. It segued into terror as I fought against the pull of the wave”). She crafts a touching tale of travelers at their peak, but often chooses to skim over the dramatic; she alludes to one of the boys aboard having a manic episode due to undiagnosed bipolar disorder, but shies away from describing it. While designed as a family snapshot, the account could have used more tension, elevating Dreffin’s story.

A tender portrait of a clan coming into its own on the ocean.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9979996-1-7

Page Count: 266

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2016

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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