A VED MEHTA READER

THE CRAFT OF AN ESSAY

paper 0-300-07561-8 Longtime New Yorker writer Mehta (Remembering Mr. Shawn’s New Yorker, 1998, etc.) takes on the “awkward task”of selecting pieces representative of his 40-year career. Mehta published his first book in 1957 at the age of 21 following his first year at Oxford. He would write 20 more, many autobiographical or based on essays that originally appeared in the New Yorker, whose editor, William Shawn, taught Mehta the “principles of good writing . . . clarity, harmony, truth, and unfailing courtesy to the reader.” At his best, Mehta is a stylist whose personal fascination with a subject can lend energy to the essay form, as in “The Train Had Just Arrived at Malgudi Station,” his lengthy profile of Indian novelist R.K. Narayan. Conducted in New York, his interviews of Narayan do reveal both the literary figure and the man. Sitting in Narayan’s borrowed apartment on East 57th Street, chewing betel nut, the two men range in conversational topics from Narayan’s takes on Western writers—mostly “bores,” such as Joyce, Hemingway, and Faulkner—to tearful recollections of his late wife. Mehta also does a marvelous job in “Nonviolence” of examining Mahatma Gandhi’s controversial celibacy and how this ahimea, or “love force,” prepared him for his history-making work. However, Mehta is sometimes indubitably long-winded, as in his overly long piece on the spite and vitriol of British philosophers in the early 1960s, which has little to recommend it. He relies on interviews with “John,” an Oxford lecturer who spoke “too frankly and unprofessionally to wish to be identified.” And Mehta’s dry presentation of stale data in his 1970 article on Calcutta’s poverty is relieved only by his brief look at some early criticisms of Mother Teresa (e.g., her lack of medically trained staff and her grandstanding acceptance of only “the most extreme and dramatic cases”). Too many pieces here are too mired in the time when they were written to endure.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-300-07189-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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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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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