A multilayered, cosmically inclined, and challenging work.

WHERE ACORNS LANDED

In Curtis’ debut fantasy novel, a hermit and a film editor cross paths during a supernatural event.

Former accountant Lowell Watterson lives in the town of Peel on the Isle of Man. After the loss of his parents at sea, he began living in what he calls “the Lounge Age.” He hasn’t left his living room in 13 months, and he’s obsessed with the voice of a woman named Nell on his self-tuning radio. She communicates with him through the static, although he never remembers their conversations. Elsewhere, Brighid Craft receives an urgent email from her mother, Tessy, whom she’s only met once, inviting her to visit her estate in the forested Brocéliande of northern France. Brighid becomes convinced that her lonely mom is crazy after watching her talk with an invisible man, whom the younger woman calls “Fictional Dad.” Back at Lowell’s place, someone rings the doorbell. On the radio, Nell says, “It’s a friend of mine.” It turns out to be an upbeat gentleman named Hector, who says that he’s going to help Lowell direct a documentary. In France, Brighid’s mother skips town, leaving a red and green coat behind. Later, Brighid checks her email and finds that she’s been hired by Aurora Productions on the Isle of Man—although she doesn’t recall applying for a job. This odd brand of serendipity drives Curtis’ complex debut, and readers will need to proceed with open minds as they travel through the whorls of symbolism and quirky humor. The narrative ethos stands revealed when Lowell says to Brighid, “Things don't always have to be neatly sorted into boxes, tied up with logic.” The story grows even stranger when a phenomenon called “UNDER” (“Unexplained Noise and Distortive Energy Release”) threatens the island and the whole United Kingdom. Still, Curtis offers sweetness at the center of this chaos in the form of a white collie named Algo, who’s desperate to be adopted. The story’s deeper connections to Irish myth may compel some readers to read it twice, though others may come away thinking that they’ve waded through what one character calls a “great big dog pile of...imponderables.”

A multilayered, cosmically inclined, and challenging work.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9999967-1-0

Page Count: 346

Publisher: Cripperty Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 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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