Minor (Humanities/Monterey Peninsula College) combines an unusual set of skills to great advantage in his first booka knowledge of Russian literature, a background in visual art, and a career as a jazz critic and musician. They've been playing jazz in Russia almost as long as they have in the US, a fact that has been amply documented by jazz historian Frederick Starr, a subsidiary character in Minor's book. But what that jazz sounded like with the advent of glasnost was a question that Minor began pondering after hearing some recordings of new Soviet artists. The result, catalogued quite amusingly in this book, was ``a nine-thousand-kilometer, six-republic, nine- city, two-major-festivals jazz journey through the former Soviet Union.'' Minor and his wife, Betty, a woman of apparently infinite patience, struck out on their own, away from the package tours and tourists, attending festivals in Moscow and Riga, and interviewing musicians and critics all over the place. The portrait of Soviet jazz that emerges is both heartening and depressing. On the positive side, there are some major talents waiting to be exposed to a wider (i.e., Western) audience. On the negative side, there are shortages of so many basic necessities for making musicreeds for sax players, mouthpieces for brass playersand so many other more basic problems (like huge distances separating musicians from one another) that the promise may go unfulfilled in spite of the hard-won freedoms of the new era. As record producer Leo Feigin tells Minor, ``You need all this freedom after dinner, not before.'' Minor tells his story with gentle humor and a great deal of charm, making the book a pleasant journey for the reader as well. (25 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-56639-324-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Temple Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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