An occasionally overwrought slurry of myth and mysticism that nevertheless addresses dire sociopolitical problems still...

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THE SON OF BLACK THURSDAY

In a follow-up to his autobiographical novel, Where the Bird Sings Best (2015), cult filmmaker, comic-book writer, and novelist Jodorowsky (The Metabaron #1: The Techno-Admiral & The Anti-Baron, 2018, etc.) tells the surreal tale of his Ukrainian Jewish immigrant father, Jaime, and mother, Sara Felicidad, and his Chilean childhood in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash.

When Jaime and Sara’s store in Tocopilla, Chile, is robbed by a man claiming to be Jesus Christ, the couple, expecting a child, migrate to the copper mines of Chuquicamata in search of a better livelihood. On the way, they meet Rubí Grugenstein, the granddaughter of the copper mine’s American owner. Rubí quickly becomes appalled by the violent exploitation of workers and land. Her solution is to have a miner impregnate her, build a statue of a copper goddess, and, in a public ceremony merging Incan and Catholic iconography, toss herself and the statue into the mines. The revolution she hopes to incite with her suicide is swiftly crushed. Jaime and Sara return home to have twins: Raquel Lea and Alejandro. Soon after, Jaime embarks on a quest to assassinate Chile’s dictator, while Raquel Lea, spouting an impossible stream of nonsensical poetry, is sent away to her grandparents, who silence her with sweetened rice. Meanwhile, warring Communists and Trotskyists take advantage of Sara’s generosity, and the police torture her for her involvement with them. The spirit of The Rabbi, who haunted Jaime’s father and Jaime, now mentors young Alejandro, guiding him through a series of absurd ceremonies that heal the long-separated family after they reunite. Throughout these epic, farcical travails, the narrative repeatedly dwells on genitalia and their “effluvia,” among other sophomoric obsessions with bodily functions.

An occasionally overwrought slurry of myth and mysticism that nevertheless addresses dire sociopolitical problems still painfully relevant today.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63206-053-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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