A lively collection, on the whole, from a man of the world who is most comfortable on his own turf.


Portrait of the artist as a well-traveled sophisticate, unsentimental littérateur, and cranky film critic.

Very little gets past the narrators of Marías’ recent novels, The Infatuations (2013) and Thus Bad Begins (2016). They’re onlookers, life’s minor characters, bearing detailed witness to a much bigger story than their own. The author proves to be a similarly absorbed and intelligent noticer in this collection of essays and newspaper columns from the past few decades, albeit one sometimes boxed in by a tight space. Although there are longer essays where he flourishes, the pieces often feel a little claustrophobic, and many end when he’s just getting going. Early in the book, Marías keeps himself (and readers) amused writing about family history or Venice, a city whose residents live in a world unto themselves. “Their indifference and lack of curiosity about anything other than themselves and their ancestors,” he writes, “has no equivalent in even the most inward-turning of villages in the northern hemisphere.” The author is at his best writing about books and movies, despite a certain reactionary streak. He takes joy in deriding a profession divided between the self-destructive and self-absorbed. His own idea of an artist-hero is The Leopard author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, who spent his last days reading rejection slips for his only novel. Marías also lets us in on his own writing process: “I force myself to be ruled by what I have already written, and allow that to determine what happens next.” As a cineaste, he’s decidedly old-school; he worships the Western, adores Ann-Margret, venerates It’s a Wonderful Life and (his favorite) The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. He may be the only critic alive who believes the 1970s were “the worst decade in the history of cinema.”

A lively collection, on the whole, from a man of the world who is most comfortable on his own turf.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-97211-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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