The writer's reach seems to exceed her grasp in stories that allude to more than actually happens.

DEMIGODS ON SPEEDWAY

A collection of interrelated stories, set in Arizona, that aspires to a mythic resonance.

Sheehan (Jewelry Box: A Collection of Histories, 2013, etc.) sets her fiction in Tucson (with the occasional glimpse toward Phoenix), where all of these stories and the characters within them seem like “part of a larger order,” though each also stands on its own. Sometimes it’s nothing more than the title—the opening “Olympus Falls,” the closing “Cerberus,” the pivotal “The Lotus Eaters”—that most strongly reinforces the mythic association. The first story introduces the reader to Zero, a man who, like a developer (or a god), “creates something from nothing, wealth from scratch.” He’s one of the few characters of means in a collection where the marginalized dominate. His wife has cancer, and he has an obsessive lust for a younger woman with “[a]n ass of mythological proportions.” In subsequent stories, that woman will become his mistress and even meet his wife, while the insatiable Zero will also commit something between a seduction and a sexual assault on his son’s first real girlfriend. Zero and his demimonde are nowhere to be found in other tales featuring minimum-wage restaurant workers, petty thieves at a car wash and a sorority girl experiencing her initiation into political activism. Geography and climate provide the common denominator: “[I]n Tucson, the sun is commander….The sun is everywhere, in every nook and cranny, and there is no nook or cranny left cool or dim.” It’s a land of “the lascivious heat of spring” and where, too often, “marriage is but a mirage on the horizon.”

The writer's reach seems to exceed her grasp in stories that allude to more than actually happens.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8165-3110-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Univ. of Arizona

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping...

WITHOUT FAIL

From the Jack Reacher series , Vol. 6

When the newly elected Vice President’s life is threatened, the Secret Service runs to nomadic soldier-of-fortune Jack Reacher (Echo Burning, 2001, etc.) in this razor-sharp update of The Day of the Jackal and In the Line of Fire that’s begging to be filmed.

Why Reacher? Because M.E. Froelich, head of the VP’s protection team, was once a colleague and lover of his late brother Joe, who’d impressed her with tales of Jack’s derring-do as an Army MP. Now Froelich and her Brooks Brothers–tailored boss Stuyvesant have been receiving a series of anonymous messages threatening the life of North Dakota Senator/Vice President–elect Brook Armstrong. Since the threats may be coming from within the Secret Service’s own ranks—if they aren’t, it’s hard to see how they’ve been getting delivered—they can’t afford an internal investigation. Hence the call to Reacher, who wastes no time in hooking up with his old friend Frances Neagley, another Army vet turned private eye, first to see whether he can figure out a way to assassinate Armstrong, then to head off whoever else is trying. It’s Reacher’s matter-of-fact gift to think of everything, from the most likely position a sniper would assume at Armstrong’s Thanksgiving visit to a homeless shelter to the telltale punctuation of one of the threats, and to pluck helpers from the tiny cast who can fill the remaining gaps because they aren’t idiots or stooges. And it’s Child’s gift to keep tightening the screws, even when nothing’s happening except the arrival of a series of unsigned letters, and to convey a sense of the blank impossibility of guarding any public figure from danger day after highly exposed day, and the dedication and heroism of the agents who take on this daunting job.

Relentlessly suspenseful and unexpectedly timely: just the thing for Dick Cheney’s bedside reading wherever he’s keeping himself these days.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-14861-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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