Stately pronouncements from a master of the form.

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LIFE SENTENCES

LITERARY JUDGMENTS AND ACCOUNTS

A wry, mannered retrospective collection of essays by octogenarian Gass (A Temple of Texts, 2006, etc.).

In these wide-ranging essays, the author embarks on considerations of the function of mimesis in Greek theater with the same stylistic devotion and plentitude as he does an exegesis of lust. In “Retrospection,” a revelatory piece written at age 87, he admits that writing never came easily to him, yet creating metaphors was “unstoppable,” as natural as “carp ris[ing] to a dimple of bread.” (He lists seven personal “bad habits” in the same essay—e.g., naming, metaphoring, jingling, preaching, theorizing, celebrating, translating, all of which nicely percolate in other essays here.) The profound reading of this former philosophy professor is gorgeously in evidence—e.g., in his writing about Nietzsche, Kafka, Malcolm Lowry and Henry James, and in an excoriating look at the extent of Nazi Germany’s legitimizing of murder. His essay on the “Nordic Nazi” and little-read Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun is a fascinating study of a soul-impoverished quisling. Bass also offers erudite but no less accessible reflections in a series of Biggs Lectures in the Classics. The author delights in a well-turned sentence, and the last section of this alluring collection diagrams some duds and some doozies—e.g., Sir Walter Scott’s litany from Waverley, Chester Himes’ tough-guy constructions in Run Man Run. As a philosopher, Gass confesses that his most cherished part of speech is the preposition, particularly of, meaning “those of possession and being possessed, of belonging and exclusion.” Throughout, rhythm is the author’s organizing principle, rendering his own sentences compelling, exacting and suggestive.

Stately pronouncements from a master of the form.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-59584-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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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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