A comprehensive portrait of the influential New Orleans writer whose oeuvre reflects the racial tensions of the times and is...

READ REVIEW

NEW ORLEANS GRIOT

THE TOM DENT READER

An expansive collection of essays, interviews, poetry, and fiction by the New Orleans writer.

In the introduction, friend, fellow writer, and former apprentice Salaam (The Magic of Juju: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement, 2016, etc.) describes New Orleans writer Tom Dent (1932-1998) as a “griot,” which he defines as “a combined modern day, culturally grounded ethno-cultural anthropologist facing his past, as well as a public intellectual/cultural activist confronting his present.” It is an apt characterization given Dent’s range as a writer—fiction, journalism, poetry, and more—as well as his being a central figure in the Free Southern Theater in New Orleans and the Umbra writers collective in New York City. In every instance, Dent’s work reflects his commitment to black community and social responsibility, using writing as a means of expressing the political issues he was passionate about and the social injustice he fought against. One of the collection’s standouts is the story “Legacy of the Scottish Owner’s Will,” which is set in 1870 and features an elderly emancipated slave who ruminates on the nature of the black struggle for freedom and an impatience for civil equality. This early story was composed during Dent’s brief stint in New York, and it was upon his return to New Orleans that he began using journalism as his preferred medium for tackling issues of racial injustice, black identity, and civil rights. Among the other highlights of this period are “Beyond Rhetoric: Toward a Black Southern Theater,” a 1971 essay that advocates for a socially conscious aesthetic over spectacle; essays on Mardi Gras and New Orleans jazz musicians; and several illuminating interviews. While Dent’s work represents a minor, albeit interesting chapter in the American canon, its resonance is perhaps more deeply felt today.

A comprehensive portrait of the influential New Orleans writer whose oeuvre reflects the racial tensions of the times and is equally relevant today.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60801-149-0

Page Count: 484

Publisher: UNO Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

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

Did you like this book?

more