A well-crafted literary satire with something to say about genre fiction.


A character attempts to make her author a better writer in this comic novel from Diamond (To Hell With Johnny Manic, 2019, etc.).

Author Wanda Wiley’s subconscious has a long-term resident. She’s Hannah Sharpe—a willful runaway who has failed to make the final draft of any of Wanda’s 18 romance novels due to her recalcitrant personality—who lives in a Victorian farmhouse surrounded by foggy, nebulous Nowhere. Now the political thriller that Wanda is ghostwriting, The President Has Been Stolen, has produced a roommate for Hannah. Trevor Dunwoody is a not-too-bright alpha male who doesn’t immediately grasp that he is temporarily out of his book, stashed—like Hannah—in a timeless netherworld. Hannah would love to get away from Trevor and onto the pages of a real novel, but Wanda can’t come up with anything for her. Wiley’s imagination isn’t helped by all the marijuana she’s smoking to self-medicate her depression, the result of her six-and-a-half-year toxic relationship to skirt-chasing professor Dirk Jaworski. Can Hannah enlist Trevor in her effort to inspire Wanda to leave Dirk, get a grip, and write them out of their depressing morass? Or will the insidious influence of selfish men—in Wanda’s personal life and in the publishing industry—keep Hannah trapped forever? Diamond’s prose is funny and barbed, particularly the dialogue between Hannah and Trevor. He takes aim at genre conventions and their unrealistic treatment of characters. “You’ve been living in a world of male fantasy,” Hannah tells Trevor about the series of which he is the star. “In the real world, not every woman is a hot babe. In the real world, the forensic scientist earns her position through brains and hard work. And not every woman falls into bed with a man just because…he has a big pistol and is good at shooting it off.” Wanda’s waking life, which involves insecurities surrounding her career and relationship as well as a new potential romantic partner, serves as an emotional ballast against the metafictional struggles of Hannah. Together, their narratives make an argument for better fiction that is both clever and surprisingly compelling.

A well-crafted literary satire with something to say about genre fiction.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9963507-9-2

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Stolen Time Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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