Elegant essays marked by surprising shifts and unexpected connections.


Largely autobiographical meditations and wanderings through landscapes external and internal.

National Book Critics Circle Award–winner Solnit (River of Shadows: Edward Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, 2003, etc.) roams through a large territory here. The book cries out for an explanatory subtitle: “field guide” shouldn’t be taken as a literal description of these eclectic memories, keen observations and provocative musings. Four of Solnit’s essays have the same title, “The Blue of Distance,” but the first segues from the blue in Renaissance paintings to a turquoise blouse the author wore as a child, then to the blue of distance seen on a walk across the drought-shrunken Great Salt Lake. The second presents Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish explorer who wandered for years in the Americas, and then several white children taken captive by Indians; their stories demonstrate that a person can cease to be lost not only by returning, but also by turning into someone else. The third blue essay explores the world of country and western music, full of tales of loss and longing. The fourth introduces the eccentric artist Yves Klein, who patented the formula for his special electric blue paint and claimed to be launching a new Blue Age. How does it all fit in? Don’t ask, just enjoy, for Solnit is a captivating writer. Woven in and out of these four pieces and the five others that alternate with them are Solnit’s immigrant ancestors, lost friends, former lovers, favorite old movies, her own dreams, the house she grew up in, harsh deserts, animals on the edge of extinction and abandoned buildings. All become material for the author’s explorations of loss, losing and being lost.

Elegant essays marked by surprising shifts and unexpected connections.

Pub Date: July 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-670-03421-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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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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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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