From Dubus (Selected Stories, 1988), fourteen new pieces that show this stalwart author, more often than not, at his great- hearted best. Dubus can be both derivative and wildly uneven, as in his clone-of-Hemingway opener, about a boy and an accidental shooting (``The Intruder''), or in the mawkish melodrama of ``Falling in Love,'' the first of four touching on the life of wounded Vietnam veteran and lawyer Ted Briggs. At the same time, it's as if there is a stream of the natural, pure, and unaffected, and when Dubus's energies are tapping that current, it seems there's no human life he can't transform into quiet, passionate, commanding fiction. Even in short, one-take sketches about the losses felt by a divorced mother (``A Love Song'') or the death, in bed, of a 77-year-old woman's husband (``At Night''), Dubus puts his fingers on the pulse of lives made genuine, felt, and real. A high-danger story about a sunken boat and sharks (``Blessings'') make the heart leap into the throat; but other stories are touched over and again by sensitive, acute observations that stir the heart more quietly, as when a mother woke her kids up ``gently because she felt she was pulling them from childhood.'' Dubus's range is not so wide as it is deliberate and true: A retired Marine learns the despair and shame of being wounded (``The Colonel's Wife''); a 55-year-old man falls in love—or in despair—with a woman younger than his own daughter (``The Lover''); a woman, thinking of her children and husband, furiously beats down two attackers (``Out of the Snow''); and this same woman, before her marriage, learns through her Catholicism that her life, passion, and love are all one (``All the Time in the World''). At one point, in passing, literature is referred to as ``the human attempt to make truth palpable and delightful.'' And so, in Dubus's capable hands, it is.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-43107-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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


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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