Anyone who has ever watched American Idol, and that will be almost everyone, will have the immense satisfaction of the...

ELIMINATION NIGHT

Written anonymously (by an insider?), this thinly veiled account of American Idol’s first season with Steven Tyler and JLo is a hilarious tour into the world of reality divas.

Sasha King is a recent college grad working on her Novel of Immense Profundity. While struggling on the second paragraph, she takes a position at the Rabbit Network as an assistant’s assistant, but when her boss, Bill, becomes injured, Sasha (known as the new Bill to everyone on set) becomes the acting assistant producer of Project Icon. Since the flaky judge disappeared and the mean judge, Nigel Crowther, left to start his own talent competition, Project Icon is in the hot seat; ratings have been down, and they need to find two judges before Rabbit’s owner, Sir Harold Killoch, cuts the show. After the kind of surreal demands only the most childish humans—stars—can negotiate, rock icon Joey Lovecraft and actress-singer-merchandiser Bibi Vasquez come on board. The novel’s impersonation of Steven Tyler’s verbal gymnastics is so dead-on, so charmingly nutty, kudos are in order. Bibi Vasquez (the JLo stand-in) comes off less attractively—as a driven, foulmouthed hunter, out for blood, even if she’s not sure why. The most sneering portrait is reserved for the show’s host, Wayne Shoreline, a workaholic sociopath who is sexually neutral and whose culinary tastes are satisfied at the pet store. Occasionally, Sasha has a few moments to devote to a personal life: trying to reconnect with her stoner boyfriend in Hawaii, working on her novel (which consists of deleting most of the first paragraph) and even finding happiness tentatively with an LA guy, found by her nosy Russian landlord. But of course, even Sasha knows her life pales under the starlight of the Icon universe, what with the drugs, the sex and the scandal lurking at every turn.

Anyone who has ever watched American Idol, and that will be almost everyone, will have the immense satisfaction of the “inside scoop,” real or not.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-94207-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Amazon/New Harvest

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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