A DIRECTOR CALLS

Lesser, editor and publisher of the Threepenny Review, probes the workings of British director Stephen Daldry and, through him, of the theater. Lesser says she had no particular interest in theater directors prior to attending Daldry's 1993 British revival of the J.B. Priestly warhorse An Inspector Calls. She found herself ``being spoken to . . . by a voice I understood.'' She was also intrigued as a literary critic by the idea of theater as the ultimate example of literary interpretation: work brought to ephemeral life by a team of artists, never affecting—or being affected by—its changing audiences in precisely the same way. Lesser spent months watching Daldry at work and talking to the writers, actors, and designers with whom he collaborates. She sat through multiple rehearsals and performances of several plays, including Daldry's hit 1995 restaging of An Inspector Calls in New York City. Her goal, she says, was to write a book that would ``fill the gap between the professor's scrutiny of a frozen script and the reviewer's response to a frozen performance,'' and ``to render into words the experience that takes place implicitly in the mind of the attentive theater goer.'' She falls short of her goal, for the same reason she is so intrigued by theater: Its experience can never be the same as a description of the experience. As hard as Lesser tries, her words can get no closer to the moments she depicts than Priestly's script gets to the magic of an actual performance of the play. But while Lesser's book is less than she intended about what theater is, it is filled with fascinating information about how it is done. Her piece-by-piece deconstruction of the directing process and her backstage revelations will be especially intriguing to people involved in the theater, in particular those playwrights naive enough to think their words are more than raw material to be thrown into the creative pot.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 1997

ISBN: 0-520-21206-1

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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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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