A sometimes-crude but unique and oddly endearing tale of self-discovery.


A road novel from debut author Hasskamp about an out-of-work chef on the verge of turning 30.

Billy MacPherson is sitting in the Portland, Oregon, home where he grew up when he hears about his inheritance from his recently deceased father. Once the news sinks in, he throws a tantrum, because while Billy’s obnoxious relatives receive huge sums of money, Billy gets a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 automobile. That the DeLorean is in pristine condition doesn’t comfort Billy, who simply sees it as another slap in the face. Recently, he saw his restaurant in New York City go out of business; then, unable to pay the rent on his apartment, he found himself evicted. Add into the mix the presence of Billy’s unstable ex-fiancee, Allison, and it seems like he might as well drive the DeLorean into the Willamette River. But he chooses instead to take the Back to the Future–esque car to visit old friends from culinary school. His trip winds up stretching from Portland to Los Angeles and includes copious amounts of food, vomit, and sexual derangement. The adventure is part Kitchen Confidential, part It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, with plenty of observations on California thrown in (as in a description of a “strange and beautiful” town: “There was an evenness to Cloverdale. The people were familiar, the businesses were familiar, the sights, sounds, and smells were familiar”). It’s a creative spin on the coming-of-age road-trip tale, even if certain bawdy moments can be startling: readers are not only treated to a scene of Billy masturbating in a treehouse but also to his friend’s mother’s graphic description of her son’s conception. The portions explaining the restaurant industry seem melodramatic at times (“Accolades mean nothing when you’re working the line”), although they do give the book a distinct voice; there are countless stories about young men at crossroads in life, but how many of those young men know how to handle a “900-degree grill”? Despite the bumpy road he travels, readers will likely want to know where Billy and his DeLorean wind up.

A sometimes-crude but unique and oddly endearing tale of self-discovery.

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5217-8473-0

Page Count: 345

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2017

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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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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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