AN AFGHANISTAN PICTURE SHOW

OR, HOW I SAVED THE WORLD

Just why a respected and talented young novelist like Vollman (Fathers and Crows, reviewed above, etc.) would want to publish dated jottings on a 1982 sojourn around and, briefly, in war-torn Afghanistan is anyone's guess. Whatever the reason, there's not much to commend in this digressive log, whose title alludes to a slide presentation the author mounted upon his return to northern California. In seemingly random fashion, Vollman recalls a journey taken to comprehend what had happened to the keystone Asian republic in the wake of its 1979 invasion by Soviet forces. Referring to himself as ``the Young Man'' throughout, the author provides a quasi-picaresque narrative of his travels in Pakistan and his short thrust with a mujihadeen band into Afghanistan itself. Vollman's protagonist is forever obliged to confront his own inadequacies following brief encounters with refugees, would-be warriors, corrupt bureaucrats, overworked officials, retired military men, out-of-office pols, and good-hearted citizens who go out of their way to make him feel welcome in their country. By the author's account, those whom the Young Man met in his travels invariably invested him with preternatural powers, owing to his American heritage. Whether Vollman intended to document the futility of trying to help others, or some other truth, is unclear. For all their purposeful irony, though, his short-take recollections add little to our understanding of a tragic chapter in world history.

Pub Date: July 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-10105-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1992

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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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