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THE MEDIUM OF DESIRE

A subtle literary success.

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A love story set in Virginia and nestled at the intersection of art and everyday life. 

Brett Bale is a popular, successful painter based in Richmond. His work is known both for its esoteric characterizations of human emotion (which one studio owner calls “wild, archetypal and primitive”) and elementary appeal (“So few lines. So little paint”). He works on commission, selling to B-list clients through his broker, Salina. Meanwhile, Olivia Martin lives in New York City and works for the notorious hedge fund McCann & Co. Her job is all-consuming, and she’s spent the past four years rotting away in a cubicle, hunched over Excel spreadsheets and dealing with her misogynist boss, Matthew Weiss. When she presents a new algorithm to the company’s executives, Matthew expectedly takes the credit. Finally pushed to her limit, Olivia quits—forgetting that she was forced to sign a noncompete agreement that prohibits her from working for another hedge fund for six months. At a loss, she moves back to Richmond to live with her parents while she figures things out. As a way to expand on his artist brand—and following Salina’s advice—Brett decides to take on an apprentice, who turns out to be Olivia. Studying with the acclaimed Brett reawakens her love for art that she thought she’d lost. In the process, Brett and Olivia fall in love, though not without a long period of hovering, innocent flirtation and momentous internal dialogue. McGlothlin’s (The Piratization of Daniel Barnes, 2018) second novel is a careful study of the effect of a hermetic artistic practice as well as the impact of burning out at an overwhelmingly demanding job. Although some of the dialogue comes off as highfalutin, with its grandiose ruminations on art (“form is everything….The building we stand in is form, originally outlined in an architect’s blueprints….All for a specific purpose, to attain a desired effect”). However, the author creates highly believable characters amid the sobering realism. He compellingly depicts Brett and Olivia’s relationship, constantly questioning the role of art in everyday life, the function of the artist within society, and the place that love occupies in this process.

A subtle literary success.

Pub Date: July 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9890488-9-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Mountainlion Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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