While offering strong elements, this recollection of surviving violence and reconciling with one’s past lacks a fully...

Other Voices

Blenman tells of persevering through a childhood of abuse to lead a Christian life in this debut memoir.

Born to a poor family in rural Barbados, Blenman endured a grueling childhood. While he was instilled early on with respect for his elders and a strong work ethic, he was also the subject of multiple forms of abuse. In addition to the corporal punishment he suffered at the hands of his short-tempered parents (his father once killed the family dog for eating from Blenman’s dinner bowl), the author was also the victim of sexual abuse from two of his sisters. Throughout his schooling, he was often beaten with a strap based on the arbitrary determinations of his teachers. In addition to documenting his abuse and the ways in which it made his life more difficult, Blenman seeks to record those people who influenced his life in a more positive way, the eponymous “other voices” whose words and advice have remained with him over the course of his life. There was Mammy, the older woman down the road who gave him sweetbreads and told him not to curse. There was Mr. Messiah, a teacher whose encouragement led to Blenman’s grades improving and ultimately winning him a scholarship. Blenman eventually moved to Canada to attend college and remains there still. While he continued to suffer trials in his adult life, he has weathered them using the lessons of his childhood. He credits his subsequent success, in part, to responding to his circumstances “in a behavioural manner that brings healing to self.” The author’s prose is capable, if not always gripping. The book is divided into short chapters that hew closely to Blenman’s memory, but they rarely provide the details that would help make the Barbados of his story come across with greater intensity. The other characters, particularly his family members, could have used a bit more exploration: they loom enigmatically at the edges of his account but never feel fully realized. The raw material of the memoir is robust, but the way it is presented does not ensure it will linger long in the reader’s mind.

While offering strong elements, this recollection of surviving violence and reconciling with one’s past lacks a fully developed narrative.

Pub Date: March 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8549-7

Page Count: 210

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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