A violent, raunchy story in which the sacred and profane manifest with supremely absurd humor.

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ALBINA AND THE DOG-MEN

From avant-garde filmmaker and novelist Jodorowsky (Where the Bird Sings Best, 2015, etc.), a picaresque tale driven by metamorphosis and travels between space-time dimensions.

After Crabby, a prickly, hunchbacked, acid-voiced teenager, loses her father and is kicked out by her mother, she embarks on a “tour of Chile, a country as long, thin, and foreign as her [Lithuanian Jewish] father.” She makes a living selling adulterated cocaine until a storm of biblical proportions washes up Albina, a beautiful albino giantess being chased by Himalayan monks. Crabby saves Albina, feeling maternal toward her. Yet they establish a club in which Albina dances naked before miners stricken with sexual desire and religious ecstasy. Unfortunately, Albina suffers from an illness that, during moonlight, transforms her into a dog in heat. When she is threatened by men and bites them, they too are infected, and all become overcome with animalistic desire. Drumfoot, a corrupt cop who tries to take advantage of Albina using Crabby’s criminal past as blackmail, falls victim to her bite. Across enormous rocky deserts, he pursues the duo, who are joined by a helpful hat-making dwarf torn in his love between the two women. Bizarre similes add to the carnivalesque atmosphere throughout. The whites of oglers’ eyes are “like unconscious pelicans,” and passing clouds are “like seagulls with rickets.” In their quest for an antidote to Albina’s canine disease, they encounter an Edenic hidden jungle where ancient Incan warriors and a witch doctor live. Each character mutates in some regard, between dog and human, ugliness and beauty, mortal and deity. Albina’s transformation is the most cosmic, and her origin story and subsequent quest whirl off into mysterious if occasionally repetitive territory, a mélange of Zen Buddhism, Inca origin myths, and Christianity.

A violent, raunchy story in which the sacred and profane manifest with supremely absurd humor.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63206-054-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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A spellbinding portrait of what it means to be human in an inhuman world.

THE WORLD THAT WE KNEW

In this tale of a young German Jewish girl under the protection of a golem—a magical creature of Jewish myth created from mud and water—Hoffman (The Rules of Magic, 2017, etc.) employs her signature lyricism to express the agony of the Holocaust with a depth seldom equaled in more seemingly realistic accounts.

The golem, named Ava, comes into being in 1941 Berlin. Recently made a widow by the Gestapo and desperate to get her 12-year-old daughter, Lea, out of Germany, Hanni Kohn hires Ettie, a rabbi’s adolescent daughter who has witnessed her father creating a golem, to make a female creature who must obey Hanni by protecting Lea at all costs. Ettie uses Hanni’s payment to escape on the same train toward France as Lea and Ava, but the two human girls’ lives take different paths. Ettie, who has always chafed at the limits placed on her gender, becomes a Resistance fighter set on avenging her younger sister’s killing by Nazis. Lea, under Ava’s supernatural care, escapes the worst ravages of the war, staying first with distant cousins in Paris (already under Gestapo rule), where she falls in love with her hosts' 14-year-old son, Julien; then in a convent school hiding Jewish girls in the Rhone Valley; then in a forest village not far from where Ettie has partnered in her Resistance activities with Julien’s older brother. While Lea’s experiences toughen and mature her, Ettie never stops mourning her sister but finds something like love with a gentle gentile doctor who has his own heartbreaking backstory. In fact, everyone in the large cast of supporting human characters—as well as the talking heron that is Ava’s love interest and Azriel, the Angel of Death—becomes vividly real, but Ava the golem is the heart of the book. Representing both fierce maternal love and the will to survive, she forces Lea and Ettie to examine their capacities to make ethical choices and to love despite impossible circumstances.

A spellbinding portrait of what it means to be human in an inhuman world.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3757-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

THE INSTITUTE

The master of modern horror returns with a loose-knit parapsychological thriller that touches on territory previously explored in Firestarter and Carrie.

Tim Jamieson is a man emphatically not in a hurry. As King’s (The Outsider, 2018, etc.) latest opens, he’s bargaining with a flight attendant to sell his seat on an overbooked run from Tampa to New York. His pockets full, he sticks out his thumb and winds up in the backwater South Carolina town of DuPray (should we hear echoes of “pray”? Or “depraved”?). Turns out he’s a decorated cop, good at his job and at reading others (“You ought to go see Doc Roper,” he tells a local. “There are pills that will brighten your attitude”). Shift the scene to Minneapolis, where young Luke Ellis, precociously brilliant, has been kidnapped by a crack extraction team, his parents brutally murdered so that it looks as if he did it. Luke is spirited off to Maine—this is King, so it’s got to be Maine—and a secret shadow-government lab where similarly conscripted paranormally blessed kids, psychokinetic and telepathic, are made to endure the Skinnerian pain-and-reward methods of the evil Mrs. Sigsby. How to bring the stories of Tim and Luke together? King has never minded detours into the unlikely, but for this one, disbelief must be extra-willingly suspended. In the end, their forces joined, the two and their redneck allies battle the sophisticated secret agents of The Institute in a bloodbath of flying bullets and beams of mental energy (“You’re in the south now, Annie had told these gunned-up interlopers. She had an idea they were about to find out just how true that was"). It’s not King at his best, but he plays on current themes of conspiracy theory, child abuse, the occult, and Deep State malevolence while getting in digs at the current occupant of the White House, to say nothing of shadowy evil masterminds with lisps.

King fans won’t be disappointed, though most will likely prefer the scarier likes of The Shining and It.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1056-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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