In this Christmas-themed novel from Valdes-Rodriquez (The Husband Habit, 2009, etc.), a newly single interior designer tests the tenets of The Rules on three potential mates.

Christy de la Cruz was shocked when her perfect husband, Zach, announced he was gay. Now divorced, Christy juggles her busy schedule as designer to Albuquerque’s rich and famous with the demands of her large, socio-economically disadvantaged but warm and outspoken Mexican-American clan. At a family pig roast in the barrio neighborhood where she grew up, Christy is challenged by her cousin Maggie to put Zach behind her—in addition to being gay, he’s an Anglo and an outsider. Maggie bets Christy that three dates each with three handsome homeboys who have made good will heal her broken heart. The caballeros in question, named after the Three Kings, are Balthazar, who bullied the once chubby Christy in grade school, Caspar, a wealthy music agent, and Melchior, a nationally known authority on chimpanzee behavior. To placate Maggie, and to alleviate her own guilt for not helping her relatives out financially, Christy takes the wager. Melchior is too wrapped up in his primates to appeal to her. She’s still resentful of Balthazar’s earlier bullying, and as a lowly high-school teacher, he’s not exactly prosperous. The most likely prospect is Caspar, who is in Christy’s income bracket and has the Beemer to prove it. She’s also powerfully attracted to him. Will she be able to resist his allure enough to feign indifference and to keep their three dates platonic, as dictated by The Rules? Will she come to realize that loyalty to her family sometimes demands generosity of more than spirit? Is there more to Balthazar than her suppositions about him, and less to Casper? The answers are predictable and clichéd. The chief pleasures, besides descriptions of outfits, food and local color, lie in the banter between Christy and the other characters—and in the contrast between her Rules-dictated demureness and her unvoiced opinions.

Witty but slight.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-60533-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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