If Lawrence Welk had been a comedian, this is the book he might have written—pleasing for a certain demographic.

YOUR DAD STOLE MY RAKE

AND OTHER FAMILY DILEMMAS

Family-oriented, family-directed humor from the longtime Prairie Home Companion head writer.

What’s a terrible place to take your family on vacation? Why, for one, “Vladimir Putin’s House of Fun.” And, for another, “Walmart.” Papa kids; he jokes; he japes, always within a G- (or, in daring moments, PG-) rated milieu. The formula is pure post-Keillor-ian Midwestern, Mort Sahl toned way down: Start with an observation (“men are ruthless and aggressive and powerful”), joke it away (“that’s how we kept wild animals from eating the children”), and then carry it over to a secondary observation (“this is why putting this animal instinct aside and acting like a ‘great guy’ is a fraud”) And again: “Fish are great. You always know where they are, you’re never going to find a fish eating out of your garbage, and they don’t jump up on the kitchen table and start licking plates.” It’s shtick, but within its own narrow confines, it works just fine. It’s not too challenging or too topical, and it draws people in with an in-on-the-joke “oh, yeah.” If you’re a parent, you’re already in on a big swath of Papa’s humor; it makes eminent good business sense, on that front, to buy into his idea of a restaurant for kids called Plain Pasta: “Anyone with a child would be making reservations months in advance, planning their birthday parties and ordering take-out.” No doubt. And no one with a child will contest the author’s position that of all the categories of relatives one might have, the aunt is the coolest. In small doses the groaners are great, but in larger ones—well, it’s like being around someone much older and forcing a smile to keep the peace.

If Lawrence Welk had been a comedian, this is the book he might have written—pleasing for a certain demographic.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-14438-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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