KIPPER'S GAME

Strikingly somber first novel from essayist/social-commentator Ehrenreich (The Worst Years of Our Lives, 1990, etc.), who makes full use of her Ph.D. in biology to create an America on the edge of environmental ruin and anarchy—where doomsday prophets and powerful corporate entities vie for control. The suburban family of Della Markson is shattered as the story begins: her husband deserts her after having driven their brilliant, brooding son Steve to disappear the year before. Della pulls her life together by getting a job at the sprawling, decaying Human Ecology Complex, where Steve, better known by his computer name Kipper, worked before he vanished, and slowly begins to gather information about him and the extraordinary game he was developing. She also meets her former professor Alex, a rumpled scientist with a serious drinking problem and no future, who has been ordered to prepare the biography of an obscure neurobiologist affiliated with a group of WW II Nazi scientists who researched the link between human mental capacity and the brain's pleasure center, using Jews as guinea pigs. Kipper's game turns out to accomplish similar goals, causing Della's and Alex's paths of inquiry to converge, but their steps are dogged by shadowy figures intent on gaining the information they seek for other purposes—figures from whom Kipper has escaped without telling them what he knows. When Della is finally reunited with her son, it's a brief, furtive event that culminates in his death, as well as her husband's, but not before Kipper safely passes on his knowledge to someone who might make good use of it. Complex and convincingly bleak, but more a novel of social and philosophical ideas than a technothriller—and generally lacking the sharp dramatic edge that would appeal to a wider audience.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-18155-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more