Waggish observations on everyday life in the US from bestselling Bryson (A Walk in the Woods, 1998, etc.), a guy who can find the humor in a bag of hammers and, often enough, the lesson too. Returning stateside after decades in Britain, Bryson was tapped to pen a weekly column for the British Mail on Sunday about life in America. What he offered was not a vast systematic picture, but rather quick sketches to reveal what unnerved and exhilarated him upon his return, what appalled him and what made him happy. And that is just what he delivers with these two-to-four-page broadsides, the revelatory minutiae that distinguish the US from all other countries. Take running shoes: “If my son can have his choice of a seemingly limitless range of scrupulously engineered, biomechanically efficient footwear, why does my computer keyboard suck?” He wants to know why a letter in the name of a certain toy company is reversed—“Surely not in the hope or expectation that it will enhance our admiration?”—or whether the executives in that company carry business cards saying “Dick — Me.” There are snorting jabs at the post office and car mechanics and hardware salesmen and, in particular and at length, his own moronic behavior (like “wrapping a rubber band around my index finger to see if I can make it explode” to test his body’s tolerance of extremes). While this collection of almost six dozen pieces has a broad streak of guffaw-aloud humor, there are also occasional, spot-on critiques—as of the patent absurdity, “the zealous vindictiveness” of the US government’s war on drugs—and a lone, touching item on sending his eldest son off to college that is so unexpected and disarming it comes like a blow to the solar plexus. Truly and beguilingly, if you are a jaded resident of the USA, Bryson can rekindle your wonder and delight in the life and land around you.

Pub Date: May 12, 1999

ISBN: 0-7679-0381-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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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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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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