by Amy Sohn ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 2009
Sohn deserves recognition for addressing some rather dark issues and for avoiding tidy conclusions, but her story would have...
The author of Run Catch Kiss (1999) gets domesticated.
In the late ‘90s, Sohn turned her romantic misadventures into a regular gig with New York Press and a debut novel. But what does a sex columnist do when she grows up? She gets married, moves to Brooklyn, has a kid and writes all about it, first in New York magazine’s “Mating” and “Breeding” columns and now here. Sohn’s first novel appeared with chick lit’s first wave and earned positive reviews for being smart and edgy. Mommy lit was, in retrospect, the inevitable successor to all those novels about pink cocktails, designer shoes and true love, but Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Does It, which arrived in the United States in 2002, was the simultaneous genesis and apotheosis of that genre. Sohn’s latest seems more than anything like an attempt to cash in on a trend. The novel follows the intersecting lives of four very different women. Rebecca is a freelance writer with a baby girl and a husband who is basically perfect in every way except that he no longer wants to have sex with his wife. Lizzie’s commitment to attachment parenting may be at least in part a reaction to her ambivalence about her mixed-race child and his mostly absent musician father. Melora is a famous actress with an adopted son and serious problems. Karen is a stay-at-home mom, a real-estate fetishist and a total sociopath. All these women live in Park Slope, and their bemused “only in Park Slope!” observations are the novel’s most annoying feature.Sohn deserves recognition for addressing some rather dark issues and for avoiding tidy conclusions, but her story would have been significantly more satisfying if she had understood that the phenomena she chronicles, from one-upmomship on the playground to the libido-less marriage, have been well documented beyond the confines of brownstone Brooklyn.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
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
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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