THE MESSAGE IN THE BOTTLE

HOW QUEER MAN IS, HOW QUEER LANGUAGE IS, AND WHAT ONE HAS TO DO WITH THE OTHER

Walker Percy, the novelist, has written a deadly serious work of theoretical linguistics. So serious is he that he suggests The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman and Love in the Ruins were written for comic relief to this twenty-years-in-progress inquiry into the relationship between human consciousness and the structure of language which eventually will end in dogged pursuit of the contents of Chomsky's "little black box"—the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). The box remains black, but Percy leaps over the heads of semanticists, syntacticians, transformational grammarians, psychologists, learning theorists, logicians, philosophers, semioticists and the rest of the empirically minded pack into a "radical" linguistic anthropology that purports to explain why 20th century man feels bad. The message in his bottle—the "news" for which the modern castaway desperately searches—seems for all the world to be the Christian gospel which he no longer has the "means" for understanding. Putting aside the religious argument, Percy tackles the failure of positivism and the need for "a metascientific, metacultural reality." His special perspective equates consciousness with symbolization and revives a theory of Charles Peirce (a predecessor of William James) for a tentative exploratory model of sentence formulation—making the connection between the object in the world and its verbal designation. Language and abstraction, as the characteristics that divide man from the rest of the animal kingdom, fascinate us too; but Percy promises a great deal at the outset and that final diagram of the triadic structure of the typical "semological-phonological" naming sentence seems most recondite. It may be accessible to specialists.

Pub Date: June 16, 1975

ISBN: 0312254016

Page Count: 354

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1975

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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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