A realistic and lingering picture of evolving Russia.




Moody Russian days from London Times correspondent Bennett.

The journalist had flirted with Soviet Russia for some years before 1991, when she wangled a job as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and the Los Angeles Times. Here, she doesn’t concentrate on the breaking stories of the time, but on the less covered subjects of daily life, personal bemusements, and food. For the Russian on the street, as Bennett sees it, food is love, and caviar is its purest expression: “Does caviar actually taste good? That question is pointless. Your spoonful of black eggs is full of far more than salt and oil and protein. It is weighed down with symbolism.” Yes, Bennett likes the taste, but she likes caviar’s symbolism even more: it’s the food of regret and nostalgia, of conquest (“a delicacy snatched from the mouths of the defeated khans”), of dashing, freebooting Cossack caviar traders. Thoughts on this quintessentially Russian delicacy wend their way through the story, but don’t overwhelm it. Bennett is interested in topics as diverse as azart, the give-a-damn strain running through many Russians in the early 1990s that means “not being satisfied that you’ve got enough till you’ve got far too much.” She’s fascinated by the old southern lands—“Dagestan, a poor, crime-ridden and mostly Muslim place next door to poor, crime-ridden, mostly Muslim Chechnya”—and more taken with the fantastical coups and crazy semi-wars of the region than the big bloodbath in Chechnya (though she published a book about it, Crying Wolf, in the UK). The more obscure conflicts tell us more about life in the area, Bennett believes. She also notes, as press reports rarely do, that after all the insanity, “gradually people went back to living their real lives. . . . Most people were sick of excess.” Azart was replaced with “a taste for dull bourgeois luxuries,” and “everyone I knew had a respectable job to go to in the mornings.”

A realistic and lingering picture of evolving Russia.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2004

ISBN: 0-7553-0063-7

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Headline

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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