From Pulitzer-winning novelist Kennedy (Very Old Bones, 1992, etc.), over 80 articles, reviews, interviews, and miscellaneous pieces—``a chorale of my own assumed voices.'' Before, during, and after halting (but ultimately successful) attempts to find his fictional voice, Kennedy plowed the fields of nonfiction as a reporter, book critic, and pop-culture fan. These pieces have been culled from nearly 40 years of this work, ranging from a 1954 tongue-in-cheek obit of Langford, a ``Widely Known Albany Cat,'' to a 1992 tribute to childhood idol Damon Runyon. The quality here ranges as widely as the time span. A few segments might have been better left out (notably those dealing with his wife's hiccups and Diane Sawyer's blond beauty); and the early journalism, though highly competent, bears marks of being written on the fly and lacks the lyricism that makes Kennedy's ``Albany cycle'' of novels soar. Meanwhile, the literary reviews and interviews reveal the author's heroes and mentors (Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, John Steinbeck, Robert Penn Warren, John O'Hara, and E.L. Doctorow), as well as his fascination with Latin American writers (an interview with Gabriel Garc°a M†rquez became the first biographical report on the writer in both the US and Britain). Appreciations of Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and jazz pianist Joey Bolden are warm and charming fan's notes but seldom incisive. Aficionados will be most interested in Kennedy's accounts of his first stab at short-story writing; of his relatives (including an uncle who served as a partial model for Francis Phelan); Ironweed's astonishing rejection by 13 publishers; two brief encounters with Hollywood as a screenwriter; and, of course, the hardscrabble, raffish Irish-Catholic Albany milieu that the author has re-created as lovingly as Joyce's Dublin or Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. Not Kennedy in his best, heart-stirring fictional mode—but often funny, charming, and certainly indicative of the subterranean personal and literary roots that bore glorious fruit in his novels.

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-84211-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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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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