An affecting and riveting chronicle of a singular childhood that evokes the contradictions of hippie utopian ideals in an...




In this memoir, a woman explores the gifts and costs of being raised by free-spirited parents on the fringes of paradise.

Red-haired, freckled Neal was born in La Jolla, California, but her first memories were of playing naked in the surf in the 1960s on the beaches of Hawaii, where her hippie parents moved to escape convention. Even as a child, she learned to read the signs of her father’s bad moods that could lead to frightening rages. As she grew up on the remote island of Kauai, her life was governed by his temper and the repercussions of her parents’ lifestyle. Surrounded by like-minded drifters and surfers, they lived off the land, sometimes going hungry except for the fruit and fish they foraged. Through poverty, the birth of two girls, and a miscarriage, Neal’s parents remained beguiled by the lush landscape, fleeing their problems in a cloud of alcohol and pakalolo, the Hawaiian name for marijuana. But life was complicated for a girl navigating a world she loved yet where she remained an outsider, “haole crap,” to many locals who viewed the influx of white hippies with mistrust. Yo-yoing between Hawaii and California throughout her youth, she was forced to rely on her inner resources to develop a sense of identity, family, and home. The author, who has written books under the name Toby Neal (Wired Courage, 2018, etc.), has crafted a deeply personal coming-of-age narrative that is also an engrossing history of a bygone era. She paints a pre-tourist portrait of rural Kauai and the hippie surfer community that thrived there, buoyed by its beliefs in Eastern religion and the transcendental power of drugs. She skillfully captures the evolving perspective of growing up, from the naïve immediacy of childhood to the angry acuity of adolescence to the gentler perceptions of maturity. The scenic and cultural setting of Kauai filters through the text in vividly descriptive passages as well as the frequent use of Hawaiian words. Missing is any voice of the locals, although the author tries to remedy this with a foreword by John Wehrheim that discusses Kauai’s past. But being a white outsider is a major part of Neal’s story, so perhaps it is unavoidable that her narrative remains unbalanced.

An affecting and riveting chronicle of a singular childhood that evokes the contradictions of hippie utopian ideals in an unspoiled Hawaiian landscape long since lost.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73277-125-3

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Neal Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


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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