MEMNOCH THE DEVIL

THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES

The fifth volume in the Vampire Lestat chronicles (The Tale of the Body Thief, etc.) finds Lestat pitted against the greatest adversaries of his bloody life: God and the Devil. Rice's richly descriptive latest—the best plotted of the series—is less horror novel than a knockoff of Dostoevsky's theological battles. Lestat is obsessed by Roger Flynn, a handsome billionaire cocaine smuggler whom he stalks for months and at last kills and dismembers. Then surprise: Roger's ghost turns up drinking Southern Comfort on a Manhattan barstool beside Lestat. All Roger wants is for Lestat to deliver some laundered cash and a trove of religious relics to his daughter, Dora, a New Orleans televangelist. The relics include a fake Veronica's Veil, perhaps 400 years old. Lestat flies Dora by batpower to Manhattan, shows her the apartment full of Roger's fabulous relics and cash. But Lestat hears the Hound of Heaven chasing him, which is also Memnoch the Devil (Satan), who takes Lestat to Limbo, engages him in cosmic chat about evil, and tries to get him to join him as co-ruler in Hell. Memnoch, a fantastic altruist, fights God for the betterment of mankind, especially for souls in Hell who someday deserve to go upstairs to Heaven. Then, after a huge chat with God, who tries to sign Lestat up for His team, the immortal vampire joins Jesus on the way to Calvary, is given the true Veronica's Veil after Christ imprints his bloody face on it, and has a horrific tour of Hell, full of souls trying to wash away their sins. Will Lestat choose Heaven or Hell? And will he get the real Veronica's Veil back to Dora? Not Christ and the Grand Inquisitor, but a vastly daring change of pace for the atheist Lestat, a tormented Ivan Karamazov tied into spiritual knots and left disbelieving his own senses.

Pub Date: July 21, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-44101-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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