In a world full of glittering descriptions and minimal consequences, a pair of twins engagingly explore questions involving...

MAGGIE'S RUSE

Tumultuous, artistic twins struggle with their sameness and their differences in Parrish’s (The Amendment, 2018, etc.) novel.

Maggie and Marta Dugan are identical twin sisters—picture-perfect copies of millennial privilege. They’re financially well-supported as they pursue creative endeavors in New York City, Maggie as a visual artist and Marta as an actress. But neither has experienced the success they’d hoped for at the age of 27. Both operate on impulse, which results in choppy journeys toward self-understanding. Maggie, for instance, knows that Marta has an ongoing professional and personal connection to Josh—but she still allows him to think that she’s Marta until they kiss deeply and passionately. Josh, no stranger to privilege himself, is an aspiring playwright who becomes fascinated by both women, but he pursues only one of them romantically, which leads to conflict. As Maggie and Marta’s relationship has its up and downs, they also interact with their sister Angie, who has a practical job as a social worker and receives no support from their parents. Throughout, Parrish offers dreamy descriptions of the women’s luxurious lifestyles, and much of the book’s humor comes from the straightforward way that Parrish describes the characters’ rather mystifying and capricious behavior. They move out of the city on a whim, take jobs and leave them at the drop of a hat, and treat dates horribly. Through it all, the author shows how the sisters deal with a tense question: When there’s someone in the world who looks just like you, what does that do to your sense of identity? Is that person's sense of self inextricably tied up with your own? Unexpected developments, such as Maggie’s closeness with Leah, a rival artist, often shine, despite their far-fetched nature.

In a world full of glittering descriptions and minimal consequences, a pair of twins engagingly explore questions involving love, career, and family.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947021-90-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Unsolicited Press

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2019

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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 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

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