APPROACHING EYE LEVEL

In these essays, journalist and essayist Vivian Gornick (Fierce Attachments, 1987) bravely faces—and, even more remarkable, clearly renders—loneliness and the ongoing search for human connection. Gornick brings us out on the striving, bustling streets of Manhattan, where she often finds herself walking, seeking a kind of company in the anonymous crowd. We follow her, too, into stifling, backbiting university communities where she has spent time as a visiting writing teacher, and to the Catskills, where, working as a waitress, she learned brutal lessons about human nature. She meditates painfully on a brilliant woman writer, a friend of hers, now dead, who was loved, even worshiped, by many people, yet spent her life evading intimacy. Gornick also devotes an essay to living alone; rethinking a dogmatic devotion to solitude—she once wrote a polemic called ``Against Marriage''—she ponders the ways in which, post-divorce, she has never really learned to live by herself. She is courageous in these pieces, both in what she will say and in what she is willing to see. Throughout, she beautifully articulates, from a feminist perspective, her struggle to work and create, and to from meaningful relationships with others. The collection's themes come together in a final essay on letter writing, in which she argues, that, though many complain that the telephone has killed the letter, both represent vital parts of life: the impulses to connect and to narrate. Gornick argues eloquently against choosing one form of expression over the other, though this essay is a little dated now that so many people, through e-mail, are charting a new course somewhere in between. Though Gornick's standards for quality conversation are higher than most people's—hence her vulnerability to the isolation that accompanies its absence—her hunger for connection and understanding resonates and inspires. Her prose is sharp and her characterizations—of her friends, modern life, and of herself— ring true. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1996

ISBN: 0-8070-7090-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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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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