FALL FROM GRACE

Pedophilia, Satanism, a closeted politician, and an astonishing number of semi-closeted priests reunite a prosperous Irish Catholic shrink and his long-lost love, now a Ph.D. candidate but still ravishing. Father Greeley (Wages of Sin, p. 627; et many al.) puts his big, familiar cast of Chicagoans through incredible punishment, but they always come up smiling. Kathleen Leary married big, handsome Brien Donahue instead of smallish, clever boyfriend Kieran O'Kerrigan back in the 70's because her dominating older brother James thought it best. Now James is a bishop; Kieran is a psychoanalyst; Kathleen is a mother and student; and Brien is a wife-beating, alcoholic, closeted homosexual lawyer whose lover has been calling Kathleen when he's not busy arranging his Satanic rituals. Oh, and Brien is also about to announce his candidacy for the upcoming senatorial primary. James, a stuffed-shirt careerist, tries to keep a lid on Kathleen and Brien's problems—while also trying to squelch a suburban couple who are suing the church for reassigning their young son's abuser, a pedophile priest, to another parish, which is how the archdiocese has been handling its pedophilia problems for years. James involves Kieran in the investigation of the pedophilia business, unaware that his sister, after years of separation, feels her love for Dr. O'Kerrigan reawakening. Meanwhile, Kathleen, who has the glorious red hair and magnificent breasts without which no Greeley heroine is complete, hacks away at her Ph.D., mothers three teenaged daughters, endures incredible abuse from her alcoholic mother, alcoholic husband, and alcoholic in-laws, and still, good Chicago Irish-Catholic politician that she is, agrees to put off a divorce until after the primary. Events, however, overtake everybody. Maddening. Nobody writing today has a better handle than Greeley does on his important and colorful corners of the world, but to get those insights invariably requires swallowing great doses of treacly, fake-Irish dialogue and swoony, moony romance. And, no matter how many demons he trots onstage, the outcome is never in doubt.

Pub Date: March 24, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-13723-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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

Did you like this book?

more