A TURN IN THE SOUTH

A revealing, disturbing, elegiac journey with Naipaul (Finding the Center: Two Narratives, 1984; etc.) as he shows us America's Deep South through his own eyes—and southerners as they see themselves. The South that Naipaul sees everywhere carries the weight of history: the history of race relations, the history of family, the history of subjugation by the North. The first half of the narrative is given to race relations: travelling through Charleston, all-black Tuskegee University, all-white Forsythe County, Naipaul records the candid opinions of blacks and whites (not a cheery picture). Religion is a constant presence, and for many, black and white, a primary source of identity. For others, identity is rooted in family history and status: this is an intensely class-conscious society. Naipaul visits a vast new Nissan plant and an industrial catfish farm; considers "rednecks" (discussing them with, among others, Eudora Welty), and, in conversation with songwriter Bob McDill, the appeal of country music. A visit to Elvis' birthplace leads to an understanding of the "redneck" soul. Talks with a cross section of Church of Christ congregations say much, as does a visit with up-and-coming far-right politician ("Jessecrat") Barry McCarty. Naipaul concludes his journey with the remarkable Jim Apple-white, a poet with a powerful vision of the beauty of the disappearing tobacco-farming culture. Naipaul uses both the alien nature of what he sees and the resonances it creates with his own past in Trinidad to etch his impressions subtly and deeply: a powerful, permanent portrait of a unique culture.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 1988

ISBN: 0679724885

Page Count: 391

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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