THE VAMPIRE ARMAND

Here continue the stories of Armand, first met in Interview with the Vampire (1976), and Marius, encountered in the ancient Rome of Pandora and still alive in New Orleans, where he tends the comatose body of top vampire Lestat, who’s returned from Heaven and Hell with Veronica’s Veil (Memnoch the Devil, 1995). The young Armand, first given the dark gift 500 years ago by Marius, still looks as boyish as a Botticelli angel and remains in thrall to Marius, who’s trying to fathom the long sleep of Lestat and perhaps woo the unwilling Armand away from his two mortal children: dark-haired little Benji, an Arab boy, and the tender, willowy Sybelle. When the recently befanged and elderly scholar David Talbot, Superior General of the Talamasca, an order of psychic detectives, shows up, he is no longer old but has switched to a young body and coaxes Armand (as he did 2,000-year-old Pandora) to relate his memoirs to him. With vague memories of spending his boyhood in Kiev Rus, Armand awoke as an amnesiac boy in Istanbul many centuries ago as slave or captive, and was sold into Venice, where Marius, a great Renaissance painter with a taste for lavish living, took him as a special member of his harem of boys, making him a sex slave. By day, Marius disappears, returns to paint by night, and at last grants Armand eternal life. He educates him in history, philosophy, and the law. Then the Children of Darkness, vampires who kill for God, burn the palazzo and paintings, burn Marius and his harem, and capture Armand. Marius, of course, is not really dead. Eventually, all turns on Armand’s love for Benji and Sybelle, on Rice’s lush reading of Beethoven’s Appassionata piano sonata, and on a dreamy awakening of Lestat as Christ. Rice at her ripest, with research easily absorbed by the voluptuous text, though she fawns over her weaker, or more sentimental, moments.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-45447-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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