Johnston is a master of understatement wringing honest nostalgic emotion from simple declarative sentences. Here he offers a...

BALTIMORE'S MANSION

A MEMOIR

A beguiling combination of family history and autobiography, this first nonfiction work from Ontario novelist Johnston (The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, 1999) forms a revealing appendage to his own fictional works.

We are given the experiences of three generations of Johnstons in a carefully shaped narrative that blends together chronological history, the adult Johnston’s backward looks at his own childhood, and fictionalized reconstructions of quietly climactic moments in the lives of Johnston’s paternal grandfather Charlie and father Art. The former was a blacksmith and fisherman in “Ferryland,” the original name of the colony founded in the 1620s by England’s Lord Baltimore (the site of whose mansion, long since destroyed, is still sought by archaeologists and scholars). Art was a better educated, more opinionated sort who went away to college vowing to escape the hardships that had claimed Charlie, but ended up a “fish-preoccupied, fish-infatuated man” who would become a federal fisheries inspector. Their episodic stories are unified by the Johnstons’ (most especially Art’s) ongoing hatred of the “Confederation” (with mainland Canada, accomplished in 1947) and its avatar—the resourceful politician Joseph Smallwood—a theme echoed in such vivid sequences as young Wayne’s train journey across the province (in protest against “the first trans-island paved road” and the advent of buses) and a wistful description of the author’s leavetaking from home (for college, and the hope of becoming a writer). The book climaxes with Johnston’s movingly imagined re-creation of the “final days,” during which Charlie and Art separately (and dourly) await the dawning of Confederation, and with it the loss of their country’s independence and their awareness of their own powerlessness and mortality.

Johnston is a master of understatement wringing honest nostalgic emotion from simple declarative sentences. Here he offers a rich display of the rhetorical skills and heartfelt cultural recall that make his novels so enchanting and rewarding.

Pub Date: June 16, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-50031-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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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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