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 best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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