SPREAD THE WORD

The 11th volume of the cunning linguist’s New York Times Magazine “On Language” columns. Safire is more than a witty journalist covering grammar and usage, as his fiction (Sleeper Spy, 1995) and nonfiction (The First Dissident, 1992) attest. The Pulitzer-winning political pundit fuses politics and linguistics when discussing “the need to reject the no-longer-pertinent language of the cold war.” In high-ranking Washington company, Safire hears America’s newly global policies described as “enlargement,” but he prefers the less pathological “engagement.” He wonders whether pundits should call pro-Communist Russians left- or right-wingers. Elsewhere, his research outflanks a writer who deems the term “philistine” insensitive to Palestinians. Most of the book celebrates language for its own sake. Only Safire could contemplate the hole of a doughnut thus: “Where was I? Yes. Where is the toroidal quality in a nut? (Only a few moments ago, you would not have understood that question).” The reader soon confronts holey bagels and Life Savers, as well as a dunk into the etymology of the donut (a legitimate variant, we’re told). Much of the fun of reading Safire’s mail is the many “incorrections,” or inaccurate corrections. With an ear to pronunciation, we learn that some say “PRAH-sess,” while the more logical Brits say “PROH-sess.” Quoting from TV Guide, Roseanne, or Hillary Clinton, Safire champions spoken language and attacks politically correct atrocities, like one that would turn zoos into Wildlife Conservation Parks. Not that Safire is opposed to new coinages. These articles are mad with serious and invented neologisms like “Pun jab” and new definitions, such as “news junkies” as “consumers of junk food for thought.” In 20 years on the language beat, Safire has waged a delightful battle for correct but common English, taking on its petrifaction with such defiant phrases as: “You’d think the Brits invented it.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8129-3253-6

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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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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