Capote’s about due for a revival. This is the sampler to spark it.

PORTRAITS AND OBSERVATIONS

THE ESSAYS OF TRUMAN CAPOTE

“I’d never known anyone who wrote,” Capote once remarked of his small-town Southern childhood, the start of many a story. “Indeed, I knew few people who read.”

He has been dead for nearly a quarter of a century, and Capote would be chagrined to find that, yes, few people read, and fewer read him now than in his heyday, despite two recent films devoted to his life circa In Cold Blood. This well-made selection of essays, excerpts and interviews memorializes the Capote who was at once more and less than the careerist literary journalist of that era—the bon vivant who fed himself baked potatoes stuffed with caviar; the haunted romantic who declared that the most beautiful word and the most dangerous word in English were one and the same: love. He was also the gossip, social butterfly and hanger-on who did not like actors (of John Gielgud: “all his brains are in his voice”; of Marlon Brando: “No actor . . . has transported intellectual falsity to higher levels of hilarious pretension”) or politicians except, strangely, Ronald Reagan and Adlai Stevenson, but who always managed to be around actors and politicians. Capote is largely remembered today as a personality, a celebrity and Tonight Show fixture, but he was a brilliant writer first and always. This anthology gathers many pieces that stand up well against anyone’s work, as with his description of a New York heat wave or of the tony-crowd, pre-jetset life on a Mediterranean island (“Ischia was no place for the rush of hours, islands never are”). The best parts find Capote at his most relaxed, inclined to make fun of his many peculiarities, especially when they butt up against others’ eccentricities. Capote’s account of a chicken dinner with a famed artist gone awry is one of the funniest pieces in the culinary literature and a pleasure in any context.

Capote’s about due for a revival. This is the sampler to spark it.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6661-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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