Lighter-than-air mockery. Often ingenious.


Martin (Cruel Shoes, 1979), star of stage and screen, and a guy once glimpsed with an arrow through his cranium, here toys with ink and paper.

With a gathering just shy of two-dozen little pieces, of which many originally appeared in the New Yorker, the comedian-actor-author offers commentary in the vein of his New Yorker forebears, S.J. Perelman, Robert Benchley and Woody Allen. He has improved since his Cruel Shoes, arrow-in-the-head days; if he hasn’t yet beaten those other worthies at their special game, Martin is at least a contender. He, like them, shows continuing evidence of linguistic hypomania—he’s more than a bit mad on punctuation, words, et cetera. Like Perelman, he’s also good at commentary on current and ephemeral events, like tripping up friends or relatives with clandestine recordings, or casting the roles of incumbent chief executive and first lady with Lucy and Ricky, or deconstructing a dumb remark by Marlon Brando. Especially sharp wit is brought to bear on the bicoastal drivel of showbiz luminaries, who babble of Prada leather pants in order to hide from the fans their real intellectual prowess. Certainly the Martin oeuvre is not uniform, never monotonous. True, there’s a piece about an eager dog with a setup that doesn’t support the punch line, for example, but even a belabored item about a mature Lolita can offer lines like, — —Lo-lee-tah,— she tongued. A column of sweat drained down the boy, and he entered puberty.” Three or so neat and nice pages even announce a shortage of periods in the Times Roman font—and the piece does indeed finally use just one of those very punctuation points.

Lighter-than-air mockery. Often ingenious.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-6467-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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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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