Scottish writer Thompson’s second outing is her first here—and while some will groan at its jejune, vapid, imitative clunkiness, others will be smitten by its psycho-feminist puzzlings and probings. With debts to Henry James, Oscar Wilde, the Marquis de Sade, etc., etc., etc., Thompson takes a nameless and reclusive hyper-aesthete, makes him god-like of face and club of foot, surrounds him with glorious objets d—art in his Kensington Gardens flat, and has him fall passionately in love—with a portrait on the wall. Whether he’s in love with the —real— Justine or the —ideal— Justine of the portrait, whether he loves the woman or wants to —own— her, remain (as they—ve long, long had a way of doing) central to the mysteries, mazes, dreams, terrors, and tortures that follow, with an outcome that readers will have to find out for themselves. Our narrator, though, thinking himself divinely blessed by the fate of being spoken to by the real Justine in the stacks of a library (— —Why me?— — — —Because of your face. It is like Michelangelo’s Adam reaching out to God— —), ends up tricked, then tricked and tricked again not only by Justine but by Justine’s twin sister Juliette, even to the point of committing a murder (uh-huh, it’s very, very, very gory) in order to ’save— Justine from a murderer of her own—though from then on, things go badly indeed for Narrator, who will follow mazes and enter houses he’s seen in dreams, find himself behind bars, lose his club foot, and... But one mustn—t tell too much. Admittedly, there are brief moments, especially near the end, of psychological interest, mystery, even a certain penetration, though the road to them is well paved with banality (—However, I could hardly take what she was telling me seriously—it read like something out of a bad detective novel—). For those, only, who like their mind- and gender-teasers in —novel— form.

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-887178-65-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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