As Burroughs-iana, marginal. As satire, flat. As agitprop, clumsy and outdated.




A surrealistic action plan for would-be revolutionaries from the literary provocateur, prescribing a dash of viral marketing and a lot of political assassination.

Written and recorded in multiple forms in the early 1970s, this manifesto is an impassioned yet sometimes incoherent rebuke to ossified political ideologies, much as Burroughs’ fiction assailed literary conventions and even the countercultural ideals of the Beats he associated with. As a guide to “bring down the economic system of the West,” its recommendations are, effectively, terrorism: targeted and random assassinations, plane bombings, mobilized street gangs, and so on. Not all of the recommendations are violent, though, and some anticipate modern-day political meme strategies: “Construct fake news broadcasts on video camera,” he writes. “Scramble your fabricated news in with actual news broadcasts.” Some passages are marked by a righteously outraged humor, as when he imagines the masses rising up against the British monarchy and profanely chanting “bugger the queen.” That tonal shifting—sometimes funny, sometimes angry, sometimes coolly how-to-ish, as the title suggests—makes it unclear how seriously Burroughs took his call to arms. (He calls his mass-assassination plan a “utopian fantasy,” but he still contemplates it in detail.) Three academic essays introducing the book shed surprisingly little light on the matter, fussing over discrepancies between versions of the text, though a lively afterword by alternative publisher V. Vale argues that Burroughs was theorizing more than exhorting, chasing “outrageous scenarios and fresh language capable of inspiring readers decades into the future.” But even if Burroughs was indeed recommending mass killings, few would find much inspiration in this book’s slurry of ideologies, half-remembered history, and pseudoscience, as the author draws on crackpot Scientology doctrine and inexplicably suggests that we “produce a variety of humanoid sub-species.”

As Burroughs-iana, marginal. As satire, flat. As agitprop, clumsy and outdated.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8142-5489-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Ohio State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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