A jolly anecdotal romp through Wolfman Jack's life as a disc jockey and improbable pop-culture legend. Born in 1938, future Wolfman Bob Smith grew up in and around New York City. His parents divorced when he was five, and he divided his unsettled youth between running with a gang and pursuing his overlapping loves: rhythm-and-blues and radio. Smith honed his craft at a tiny radio station in Newport News, Va., where in addition to spinning records and polishing his patter, he messengered marijuana, dabbled in pimping, and inaugurated interracial on-air dance parties. After a stint in Louisiana, where his commitment to mixed-race entertainment inspired the KKK to burn a cross on his lawn, Smith invented the Wolfman Jack persona and finagled himself a time slot on XERF, a Mexican border station so powerful that at night it reached most of the United States. This book's hilarious, tongue-in-cheek highlight, which reads like a collaboration between Mark Twain and Sergio Leone, explains how the Wolfman essentially took over XERF. This entailed bribes to the Mexican government, the extortion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from evangelical preachers, a gun battle at the station's transmitter in the middle of the desert, and an attempted assassination in a seedy hotel room. During the late '60s and early '70s, the Wolfman's broadcasts were heard by huge audiences; one listener, George Lucas, famously structured American Graffiti around Wolfman Jack's voice. The memoir (written with coauthor Laursen) provides many entertaining accounts, but it downplays the unpleasantness of his marital infidelities and drug use. A genuine fan's infatuation for rock and R&B music is evident throughout. Wolfman Jack makes a droll, infectiously enthusiastic raconteur of his own strange career. (4 photo inserts, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 20, 1995

ISBN: 0-446-51742-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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