A bloated Bonfire of the Vanities for the pomo set, full of carefully placed products (Pringles, anyone?), in-jokes and...




A big, drooly, shaggy dog of a postmodern epic, one that takes up an awful lot of space but doesn’t give a lot of affection in return.

Theroux, perhaps best known for his meditative essays, The Primary Colors (1994) and The Secondary Colors (1996), has clearly read his dictionaries; his writing is a groaning board for logophiles, of a piece with, though more comprehensible than Finnegans Wake. One has the sense that, as in Joyce’s book, there’s a perverse private joke in play here, a way of memorializing pals and getting back at enemies. Friend and foe alike bear Helleresque names: There’s the unfortunate sort-of-artist Laura Warholic, her name redolent of tomb-raiding and the Factory, and the cultural critic Eugene Eyestones, who finds himself entangled with Laura and in trouble for controversial essays that offend various and sundry minorities. There’s the gluttonous Mr. Warholic, publisher and bon vivant who calls to mind any number of real-life publisher/bon vivant types, but who doubtless would not wish to be described as having, for instance, “a moon-fat face that gave him the grey, oily look of soft cheese.” There’s food writer Ann Marie Tubb and R. Bangs Chasuble, well-rounded film critic. Laura herself is described as “a highly edited person…[who] hated the arugula set,” more than a little needy, and more than a little pitiable. Then there are the random victims of fashion, their lives all T-shirts and “vodka, handcuffs, Pink Floyd LPs,” to say nothing of obligatorily ironic discs by Martin Denny. All these gasbags swirl about in the vast space of the First World, buzzing around Grand Central and alighting on San Francisco and Paris, trying to make sense of their lives, not doing much of anything, and talking. A lot.

A bloated Bonfire of the Vanities for the pomo set, full of carefully placed products (Pringles, anyone?), in-jokes and elegant blather.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-56097-798-8

Page Count: 888

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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