BEYOND CENTER COURT

MY STORY

Strikingly bland memoirs from the former teen tennis-phenom. Sports Illustrated cover story at 13, professional at 15, US Open champ at 16, top-seeded in the world and a millionaire at 17, and forced by injuries into retirement at 21, Austin (with the assistance of sportswriter Brennan) here turns a potentially fascinating tale of early fame and loss into a dull, albeit likable, autobiography. Irritated by misperceptions of her meteoric rise, Austin takes pains to separate herself from today's adolescent superstars. The youngest of five tennis-mad siblings, she never received any parental pressure, resisted turning pro until she had outgrown the amateur ranks, and insisted on finishing high school as normally as possible, even if it meant missing the Australian and French Opens until after graduation. Furthermore, she stresses, contrary to rumor, she did not ``burn out,'' but fell victim to a series of back, leg, and foot injuries, capped by a leg-shattering car accident in 1989 on the eve of a long-planned comeback. Today, ``beyond center court,'' she mainly still plays tennis (with income from numerous exhibitions as well as TV, motivational-speaking, and endorsement contracts providing ``a very nice living''). Here, Austin concentrates mostly on saying nice things about people—primarily former opponents and current players, but also old boyfriends and the various celebrities she has met—although a glint of malice shows up now and then (e.g., regarding Pam Shriver, who criticized Austin in her own book: ``I beat Pam nine times in a row in age-group competition...I bugged her''). Lacking is any perspective on the ``intensity and concentration'' that propelled Austin to the top or on the consequences of being ``finished'' when most people are just starting. A weak net-ball of a book, best reserved for tennis fanatics looking for something to thumb through during changeovers. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 1992

ISBN: 0-688-09923-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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