Despite some repetition of detail among the essays, each is a standalone gem.

BOOK OF DAYS

PERSONAL ESSAYS

A literary late bloomer blossoms in this collection of personal essays.

“The memoir and the personal essay are crucially different forms,” writes essayist and novelist Gordon (It Will Come to Me, 2009, etc.), who here expresses more affinity for the latter in dealing with some of the material that informed her two volumes in the former genre. The best of these ten essays combine the details of memory with reflective insight and a command of tone that resists cliché, while refusing to settle into simplistic understanding. “What I really wanted to do was to examine my experience, to think aloud,” she writes. These pieces constitute a more or less chronological narrative, from childhood amid the household tension of a professor father and an alcoholic mother, through a “suicidal gesture” followed by an institutional stay and decades of serial therapy, and a marriage that she categorizes as “long, loyal, close, angry,” as it spurred her transition from therapy to writing. “Writing has allowed me…to escape the coils of therapy,” she writes. “I don’t mean that writing has been therapeutic, though sometimes it has been. The kind of writing I do now is associative and self-exploratory—much like the process of therapy, except that the therapist is absent and I’ve given up all ambition to get well.” Whether she’s explaining her affinity for Kafka or exploring the tribal rituals of faculty wives—her husband is a professor, as her father was—Gordon writes with flinty humor, unsentimental precision and a refusal to let herself or anyone else off too easily. In a characteristic twist on conventional wisdom, she writes that “the unlived life might not be worth examining.”

Despite some repetition of detail among the essays, each is a standalone gem.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-52589-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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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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