The Contemplator


Proverbs for modernity.
Mattewada, a physician as well as a victim of chronic fatigue syndrome, begins his work with an arresting statement: “At the very moment you are complaining about your life, there is somebody, somewhere in the world, begging for it.” In this original, compelling collection, Mattewada assembles hundreds of short original statements designed to make the reader stop, think and contemplate. By and large he succeeds. The author’s statements arise from deep introspection and serious questioning of the world and its values. Nothing in this collection is trite or mundane, which is remarkable given the nature of the work. In fact, the slim volume, which covers a great deal of ground, reads much like one of the many collections of quotations from Henry David Thoreau, providing thoughtful, proverbial and eminently repeatable snippets on the big issues and questions of life. Some of Mattewada’s statements, however, are definitively modern, such as his two-page poem “A Patient’s Appeal,” which will resonate with anyone who has navigated a hospital or doctor’s office. A recurring theme is the futility of materialism, as Mattewada makes it clear that our toil and any resulting riches or fame are temporary and meaningless in the grand scheme of the universe. Indeed, he echoes the Old Testament’s book of Ecclesiastes (whether he knows it or not) in extolling the meaninglessness of our material lives. By contrast, he also speaks a great deal about suffering and sees it as a means of focusing on what really matters in life. He discusses God in many instances, sometimes ambiguously and agnostically, sometimes with certainty (e.g., “Abandon yourself to God”). An index would benefit the work, but overall, Mattewada’s perspective on life is an optimistic one, and he sees hope even in the midst of a broken world. As he says, “A problem cannot exist without a solution.”
A strikingly insightful gem.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692026458

Page Count: 146

Publisher: YamPress Books

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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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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