John Cheever’s son (The Partisan, 1994, etc.) follows in the footsteps, if not quite in the spirit, of his father in this witty send-up of politics, publishing, and crime—and of the synergy they generate on really good days. Noel Hammersmith is an editor at prestigious Acropolis Press (Kafka’s first American publisher), where he edits diet books and dreams of getting himself down to 138 pounds. A Westchester commuter with a true Walter Mitty streak, Noel takes out his many daily frustrations by writing venomous letters to companies that have earned his wrath, including Brooks Brothers (for discontinuing their classic Brooks Blue shirt) and Golden Rule Vitamins (for selling weight-loss products that failed to help Noel lose weight). He also begins negotiations for a manuscript with an author who calls himself Che Guevara; the proposed book will describe terrorist networks and how they operate in the US. Soon afterward, a succession of extremely powerful homemade bombs is set off in public places around New York by someone known as the “Wordsworth Bomber——whom Noel, of course, suspects to be Che. Uncovering a bizarre anti-immigration cult that is linked to Che, he finds himself wanting to broadcast its political ramblings across the entire country. Has Noel, through his interest in Che’s book, become implicated in a nativist cult? What is Noel’s first duty here: to his country, or to his author? Or is it to his own career? Acropolis Press, after all, is being bought out (by a pet food company called Pretty Kitty, Inc.), and everyone’s job is on the line. Noel has a hard time sorting out his loyalties, but in the end he makes a deal with both the police and with Che that results in a fate that Noel could never have imagined even in his most fervid daydreams—and that makes him a very thin man. Hilarious and just bad-natured enough to be cruel (that is, accurate) in its satire of modern greed and modern fame: an across- the-board winner.

Pub Date: April 28, 1999

ISBN: 0-609-60005-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.


Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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