NEITHER HERE NOR THERE

TRAVELS IN EUROPE

Having groused his way across America in The Lost Continent (1989), Bryson (The Mother Tongue, 1990) now turns his attention to Europe. If it is any consolation to Americans, Bryson, an ex-midwesterner who has lived in England for the past 15 years, finds almost nothing to praise between the Arctic Circle and the Bosporus. Bryson's crankiness could have proved amusing—after all, Mark Twain's did in Innocents Abroad—but the humor here is meanspirited and juvenile (in Copenhagen, a hung-over Bryson notes that "I needed coffee the way Dan Quayle needs help with an I.Q. test"), with defecation, flatulence, and eructation far too often figuring into the comic repertoire. Nor do original insights abound as Bryson retraces the steps of a journey he took two decades before, traveling from Norway to Istanbul, stopping at many of Europe's capitals (Paris, Brussels, Stockholm, Rome, etc.) along the way. He offers such comments as: "Parisians are rude," "Swedes are heavy drinkers," and "the Swiss are dull and conventional." Consistency is not Bryson's strong suit either. While in Naples, for instance, he complains, "I found...mean, cavernous, semipaved alleyways with...washing hung like banners between balconies that never saw sunlight." Yet when he reaches modern and manicured Milan, he pines, "I wanted pandemonium and street life...washing hanging across the streets." Meanwhile, lines like "let's be frank, the Italians' technological contribution to humankind stopped with the pizza oven" are also no help. Smart-alecky and obvious, with the wit of Bryson's first two books curdled into waspishness.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 1992

ISBN: 0380713802

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1991

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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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