Ideal for those who find the concept of a news conference for a gay Central Park carriage horse hilarious, but the humor may...

Everything's Wront

UPGRADED & DUMBED DOWN

From debut author Smith comes a collection of short comedy pieces.

What might it be like to work closely with New Jersey governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie? As the narrator explains, “I’d like to think I’m his friend, but I know I’m not. Food is this guy’s friend.” What might the contents of Osama bin Laden’s diary be like? As bin Laden laments, “I can only get pornography by courier on flash drives…it is so old the last one starred Betty White.” What about “masterpieces of self-publishing” like Tollbooths by Earl Slavin, which consists of “An exhaustive survey of tollbooths from fabled trolls to modern RFID readers”? Exploring these and other such whimsical considerations, the reader is taken on a kooky journey through the silly (proposed “Jewish/American combined holidays” include “Oy, the Labor Day” and “Thankshavuot Day”) and the bawdy (such as the chapter entitled “How You Can Tell If Your Gynecologist Is Secretly Filming You”). Reminiscent of Jack Handey and other “Shouts & Murmurs” contributors, the book targets an audience comfortable with puns, flights of fancy, and fare less likely to see the pages of a publication like the New Yorker. Will the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” portend the loss of the rank of “rear admiral” and the substitution of Brazilian waxing for waterboarding? How far might the Christie campaign get with slogans like “Frosting You Can Believe In” and “Two Chickens on Every Plate”? Rooted very much in the present, many jokes may not age well. Readers, however, annoyed by Citi Bikes, Hamid Karzai, and Donald Trump will have found an author to articulate such concerns, even if those concerns may not last. Brief, the pieces move quickly throughout, providing the opportunity to get through the entirety in an afternoon or less.

Ideal for those who find the concept of a news conference for a gay Central Park carriage horse hilarious, but the humor may not be universal.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-23072-5

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Prime Prods Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

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

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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

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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