A passel of bluesmen, both living and dead, and a thrice-born voodoo child combat demons and bad religion in horror writer Rodgers's hardcover debut. The premise has promise: Knit the lives of some celebrated blues travelersRobert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbellyinto the legends of Hoodoo Voodoo, which is regular voodoo's bloodlust, hell-and-damnation side. Toss in the devil girl; add a baffled male character who spends most of his time running around with a resurrectedjump back!Elvis Presley, now a pretender to the priesthood of Hoodoo Doctors (i.e., bluesmen), who've fallen on tough times (he's a filth-encrusted hobo when we meet him); and then send the entire unholy cast down to New Orleans, where a cataclysm of apocalyptic proportions is underway. The Big Easy is crumbling while demons run amok through the streets because Robert Johnson, in his vast vanity, sang a song called ``Judgment Day'' that put a crack in the ``Eye of the World.'' With the natural order of good and evil upset, Johnson is raised from the dead as a demi-being and given the opportunity to right the ills of his arrogance (no bluesman is supposed to sing ``Judgment Day'' until the Rapture at the end of the world). After a while, it begins to look as if devil child Lisa's mother, Emma, is Robert Johnson's daughter, a suggestive affinity that the narrative's slide-around time structure (``Greenville, Mississippi: 1938''; ``Hell: Timeless'') leaves unclear. Before the final battle, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Furry Lewis, and Tampa Red figure out what's up and rush in to join the party, enabling Rodgers to squeeze into his yarn nearly every notable bluesman who ever picked up a guitar. The delivery, in a rumbling Delta baritone, is convincing; the rest is overwrought and mostly unscary.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-681-10086-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet