VAPOR

A surreal and often frenetic trip through makeover land as a bizarre young man helps an aspiring New York actress become a star by imprisoning her in his cloud-filled home. Filipacchi (Nude Men, 1993) crafts an intriguing diversion that’s as much a lighthearted meditation on the excesses of ambition as it is an unusual love story. When an acting professor tells narrator Anna Graham that she will never be an actress because she’s too much herself, she is determined to prove him wrong. As it happens, while she’s waiting for the subway, Anna rescues a young man who’s being attacked; in gratitude, Damon Wetly asks her out to dinner, and, after she tells him about her acting ambitions, lures her to his country house, where he closes her up in a specially designed prison. Damon, a scientist working to create solid clouds, is exquisitely sensitive to moisture and weight. Anna initially tries to resist the program of education he’s devised for her, but, worn out by a regimen that is as much physical as mental, gives in and follows his orders. Soon after she manages to escape and get back to New York, she becomes a major star. She hasn’t forgiven Damon, though, so when the opportunity presents itself she tricks him into visiting her apartment, where she imprisons him in a cage she’s had built. Nonetheless, the two soon become lovers, even though evil forces—including Damon’s plastic-surgeon brother—are determined to thwart their passion. The bad guys are routed, but Damon, who’s been experimenting with weightlessness, suddenly evaporates after being released from his cage. A grieving and Oscar-winning Anna has intimations of his possible return. An original and beguiling interpretation of old myths and contemporary preoccupations, despite a plot that often goes into overdrive.

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7867-0617-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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