An up-and-down yet mostly amusing collection. Many readers will skim the short analyses while enjoying the examples and...

THE AFRICAN SVELTE

INGENIOUS MISSPELLINGS THAT MAKE SURPRISING SENSE

Common expressions gain richness of meaning through mistakes in word usage.

As an editor at the New Yorker, Menaker (My Mistake, 2013) often encountered phrases from fledgling writers in which a sound-alike word, mistaken for the right one, would add a whole new dimension to the meaning of a phrase. Take, for example, “the throws of packing,” which replaces a word that many could not define (“throes”) with a common, action-packed one that suggests the way so many of us pack, throwing things here and there into piles, boxes, or suitcases. Or, “pass mustard.” Even fewer might be able to define the correct “muster” or use it in any other context. But “mustard” provides a visual dimension, however incongruous, and it perhaps relates to another phrase, “too old to cut the mustard,” which is linguistically unrelated but could become confused in the mind. Some of the entries proceed from a different impulse and gain poetic resonance, such as “sobbing wet,” which seems to suggest something different and sadder than “sopping.” And having a “self of steam” could easily apply to someone suffering from low self-esteem. New Yorker illustrator Chast (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, 2014, etc.) is typically brilliant when the cues call for visualization, especially with the stomach X-ray for “end-trails” and “something that really gets my gander up” (another one of those where most readers couldn’t define the correct “dander” or use it in any other context). There is even one selection that could spark a geographical debate, since “chile peppers” is common parlance from Texas through the Southwest, even though “Red Hot Chile Peppers” would not be correct as the band’s name. Acclaimed poet Billy Collins provides the foreword.

An up-and-down yet mostly amusing collection. Many readers will skim the short analyses while enjoying the examples and illustrations.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-80063-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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