For Mockingbird and Harper Lee devotees.

WHY TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD MATTERS

WHAT HARPER LEE'S BOOK AND THE ICONIC AMERICAN FILM MEAN TO US TODAY

A detailed account of a classic novel’s context, transformation, and acclaim.

Translated into 40 languages, with sales of some 40 million copies since its publication in 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird has become famous worldwide. Adapted on film, it earned its star, Gregory Peck, an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, a role that defined him for the rest of his career. In an affectionate homage, media journalist and Broadway show manager Santopietro (The Sound of Music Story: How a Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time, 2015, etc.) asserts that Lee’s novel still sends a relevant message to 21st-century readers. “By wrapping a nostalgic look back at childhood around a clear-eyed gaze at how racism diminishes and damages an entire community,” he maintains, Lee offers a way to perceive “America’s racial history with a fresh set of eyes.” Most of Santopietro’s book, though, does not elaborate any more deeply on why Lee’s novel matters, or to whom. He covers ground that Joseph Crespino examined in his recently published Atticus Finch: Lee’s youth in Alabama; her relationship with her father, a lawyer and model for Atticus; her friendship with Truman Capote; the prolonged writing and revising of the novel, which became an immediate bestseller; and her subsequent writing career, which ended in the long-awaited publication of Go Set a Watchman. To this biographical overview, Santopietro adds a close look at the movie’s creation: with Alan Pakula as producer, Robert Mulligan as director, and Horton Foote as screenwriter; and with Gregory Peck (rather than Lee’s ardent hope of Spencer Tracy) to play Atticus. The author details casting decisions, especially the search for the perfect girl to play Scout; and the work of designing costumes and constructing sets on the Universal backlot to bring Lee’s Alabama town to life. He conveys, as well, critics’ reception of the movie and summarizes the major figures’ post-Mockingbird careers.

For Mockingbird and Harper Lee devotees.

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-16375-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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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

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