HITMAKER

THE MAN AND HIS MUSIC

Music lovers will be divided over whether they agree with Mottola and friends that those contributions were net positive,...

The former head of Sony Music Entertainment pens an earthy, self-congratulatory memoir of his rise to the top of the music industry during its most lucrative era.

With an assist from co-author Fussman (After Jackie: Pride, Prejudice, and Baseball's Forgotten Heroes: An Oral History, 2007, etc.), Mottola affects a conversational style steeped in the flavors of his Bronx origins. “Arthur Avenue was one of my first tastemakers,” he writes. “It taught me what is good.” The mélange of sounds he heard in his childhood neighborhood—black doo-wop, Italian pop and Latin salsa, among others—would stay with him as he became a tastemaker for the world. Actually, Mottola came of age in Westchester, where he attended a prep school. He skipped college and, with his parents’ backing, attempted to launch a musical career as a Bobby Darrin–style crooner under the stage name T.D. Valentine. While he never scored a hit of his own, Mottola learned what went into making hits for other people. His star rose as a music manager when he gently steered his first clients Hall & Oates away from folk and progressive rock to their trademark blue-eyed Philly soul. Mottola was virtually unique among his corporate peers in having the experience of working as a musician and manager, and he used it to great advantage, carefully molding the careers of Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion and Shakira. Most notoriously, perhaps, he tightly controlled the output of ex-wife Mariah Carey; she wanted to break out into hip-hop and got pushed into making an album of Christmas music instead. “You’re trying to make me into a franchise,” she once told Mottola. “What do you think I am, McDonald’s?” The author concedes that he might have wronged Carey, but he is unapologetic about his role in turning the music business into a global multibillion-dollar corporate industry. Approving blurbs from colleagues between chapters back him up.

Music lovers will be divided over whether they agree with Mottola and friends that those contributions were net positive, but business students will find his insiders’ view valuable and his street smarts charming.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-446-58518-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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