A journalistic feast best savored in small bites over several days.

PSYCHO TOO

The quirky follow-up to the author/illustrator duo’s PscyhoGeography (2007).

Journalist and novelist Self (The Butt, 2008, etc.), who wrote a weekly column called “PsychoGeography” for the Independent, presents his second collection of those pieces with his friend and illustrator Steadman (Garibaldi’s Biscuits, 2009, etc.), whose pictures do far more than illustrate—they amuse, illuminate, amplify and, at times, almost editorialize on Self’s text. His rendering of an unhappy Self scrunched in a tiny airplane seat alongside two toothy snarling companions is typically boisterous. Self loves to walk, knowing, like some sort of 19th-century Transcendentalist, that truths lie along roads rarely taken—and he often finds them. The collection commences with the longest and strongest piece. “Walking to the World” is a tribute to the author’s longtime idol, the late sci-fi writer J.G. Ballard, whose life Self decided to honor by walking from Ballard’s home in Shepperton to Heathrow Airport, flying to Dubai City, walking from its airport to “The World,” Dubai’s collection of 300-artificial islands designed to look like the countries of the world, where the author planned to walk the length of its Britain. Nothing quite worked out as anticipated, but his keen eye misses little. The other literary snapshots vary in quality and humor and offer some evidence why a collection of so many pieces has its risks—for example, the author uses the word “Brobdingnagian” in at least four different essays and repeats himself in other ways as well. But Self crafts countless striking, buoyant phrases and/or sentences (“Wasps swarm on the lumps of chicken and beef we’ve left for them, then, too obese to sting, they blade-hop back to their subterranean nest in the rockery by the pool”). The author also includes pieces about the homeless of Los Angeles, American crayfish conquering the Thames, Baghdad’s Green Zone and “cardinism,” a kind of sexual relief provided by converting an old castle into a modern home.

A journalistic feast best savored in small bites over several days.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60819-022-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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