An invigorating collection of passionate, spirited voices.



Pithy literary musings on art, culture, politics and life selected from the Threepenny Review’s Table Talk section.

Featuring essays published between 1990 and 2013, the anthology emulates a gathering of critics, philosophers, writers and artists in lively conversation. Topics vary from Sven Birkerts’ battle with a stray cat, mirroring his own restlessness, to Steve Vineberg’s commentary on the “seductiveness of celebrity” so well-articulated in John Guare’s play Six Degrees of Separation. While some contributions are time-specific, most resonate with a universality that goes beyond their publication dates. Life’s exasperating moments turn into humor in Dwight Garner’s account of moving preparations, which involved “Packing (and Lugging) My Library.” Irene Oppenheim’s attempt to help a neighbor becomes a lesson in the “art and etiquette [of] delivering phone books.” John Berger flexes his observational muscles, describing the mysterious ritual a Vietnamese woman goes through at a pool in Paris, and Greil Marcus, writing on the discovery of a 1925 Dorothea Lange photo of his mother, marvels at the photographer’s revelatory power. A lament for things lost echoes through several essays. Though technology can make life more convenient, Arthur Lubow wonders what is “getting left out” in our digitized lives and worries that “what’s new is a thinned-out version of what was old.” Evelyn Toynton mourns the closing of the British Museum Reading Room in service of efficiency, a rare space that “restores the old sense of time, a contemplative rather than harried awareness of its passing.” Claire Messud rues the disappearance from modern novels of digressions, replaced with reader-desired “closure.” “Real life,” she writes, “for all we try to impose order upon it, is but an endless string of digressions.” Without them, she writes, life would be “exceedingly dull.” Not so with this assemblage of ideas, critical thinking and wry observations, which is itself a swell digression. Other contributors include Michael Gorra, Javier Marias, Sigrid Nunez and Robert Reich.

An invigorating collection of passionate, spirited voices.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1619024571

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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