WATCHING MY LANGUAGE

ADVENTURES IN THE WORD TRADE

The ninth volume of tidbits of stylistic wit and wisdom from a man willing to display his grammar in public. A letter calling a political column by Safire (In Love with Norma Loquendi, 1994, etc.) ``a pack of damn lies'' earns the letter writer a mention in Safire's New York Times Sunday Magazine ``On Language'' column, source of the articles in this lively collection. ``That comment troubled me,'' Safire says. ``Should it be damn lies or damned lies?'' He opts for damned, explaining that the first form is grounded in speech, and the second in meaning. As he says, ``speech can be loose but writing should be tight.'' This sentiment may lure copy editors to his side, at least until they reach the section entitled ``Let's Kill All the Copy Editors.'' Here Safire explores capitalization preferences and compound adjectives, concluding that style should be based upon function, not fad. His engaging language-maven persona puts him securely on a shortlist of people who can get away with grousing about the lack of subject and verb agreement in ``For the wages of sin is death''; but let him put a (metaphorical) foot wrong, and folks note it with something approaching, well, damned glee. For example, after he berates New York State lawmakers for using a legal guide ``shot through with grammatical errors,'' a correspondent points out that ``grammatical errors'' is an oxymoron. The collection is seasoned with the whimsy language-lovers have come to expect. Consider the musings on what to call Ross Perot's supporters. When Safire ponders and rejects Perotites, Peronistas, and Perotniks, his readers counter with Perotselytes, Perotnoiacs, and the rather tastier Perogies. Yet again, readers will find that Safire's apparently endless capacity to be fascinated by language is highly contagious.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-42387-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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