A collection that can’t be categorized as memoir or travel writing or literary criticism but cohesively combines such...

SIDEWALKS

Place, identity and the limitations of language converge in this slim collection of illuminating and incisive essays.

In her debut novel, Faces in the Crowd, published in America concurrently with this volume, Luiselli writes of literary recognition as a “virus,” one that these simultaneous publications is sure to spread. If anything, these essays are more impressive in both their expansiveness and epigrammatic precision, as the young writer—born in Mexico City, prolific in her output and currently studying for a doctorate in comparative literature at Columbia—mediates between her scholarship and her personal experience. The collection begins and ends in a cemetery in Venice, with the author making a pilgrimage to the grave of the exiled poet in the opening “Joseph Brodsky’s Room and a Half” and then returning full circle with the closing “Permanent Residence,” which ends with a vision of her own tombstone, after an admission that “writing about Venice is like emptying a glass of water into the sea.” In between, she writes of other places—primarily Mexico City and New York—and maps, architecture and, always, books and authors. “Going back to a book is like returning to the cities we believe to be our own, but which, in reality, we’ve forgotten and been forgotten by,” she writes. “In a city—in a book—we vainly revisit passages, looking for nostalgias that no longer belong to us….Rereading is not like remembering. It’s more like rewriting ourselves.” Whatever she writes about, ultimately, she’s writing about language, exploring the possibilities of words as well as recognizing their limits: “Perhaps learning to speak is realizing, little by little, that we can say nothing about anything.”

A collection that can’t be categorized as memoir or travel writing or literary criticism but cohesively combines such elements and more.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56689-356-5

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Coffee House

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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