A poignant reminder of the power and appeal of a voice now silent.

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HAVANAS IN CAMELOT

PERSONAL ESSAYS

Slim but substantial gathering of personal pieces by the late novelist and memoirist.

Not long before he died, Styron (1925–2006) began assembling this collection, a task completed by his widow Rose and biographer James L.W. West III. Several pieces appear here for the first time; all bear the hallmarks of Styron’s better work: fresh language, self-deprecation, unpretentiousness, wry liberalism, candor and, at times, an anger burning like magma beneath a deceptively placid surface. Most originally appeared in the 1990s; they deal with subjects as varied as the obsession for cigars that permeated the JFK Administration (the title essay), a bout with syphilis (sort of) in the Marines, walks with his dog, the importance of libraries, urological problems. This last subject provides one of his best lines: “I declared to the bishop that the nonexistence of God could be proved by the existence of the prostate gland.” There are some pieces about experiences with other writers, including a liquor-soaked cross-country train ride with Terry Southern and his long friendship with James Baldwin. Styron (A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth, 1993, etc.) praises the work of some contemporaries, most notably Norman Mailer, James Jones and Truman Capote. (Styron confesses to jealousy when he first read Other Voices, Other Rooms.) A swift tribute to Mark Twain points to some similarities. Both grew up near rivers (Styron by Virginia’s James), and both, in Huckleberry Finn and The Confessions of Nat Turner, touched the most sensitive of American nerve endings. Styron ruminates about his boyhood diary—why wasn’t he reading more, he wonders?—slams Disney for their planned Virginia theme park, has kind words for the French and recalls in several pieces his work on his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness (1951). He also toys with the very funny image of assorted solemn intellectual figures—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas Mann, Immanuel Kant—in jogging attire.

A poignant reminder of the power and appeal of a voice now silent.

Pub Date: April 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6719-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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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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