EDIE ON THE GREEN SCREEN

Where the sun always shines, dark shadows will follow.

In Lisick’s (Yokohama Threeway: And Other Small Shames, 2013, etc.) debut novel, a former indie it girl comes to terms with the reality that she is no longer, in fact, it.

Her name is Edie. Or is it? The regulars at the bar think they know her, though they don’t. Edie’s been at this job, slinging the same old drinks, same old bar talk, “not doing shit,” really, for decades. She’s spent many a late night honing that skill, but now, at 45 years of age, she’s realizing she should’ve probably been sharpening others—like learning how to use a cellphone or, better yet, the internet. An erstwhile darling of the late-1990s underground party scene in San Francisco, Edie made bucking conformity her thing, so much so that when all her friends moved away and got jobs after the dot-com boom, she stubbornly stayed put in her sketchy Mission warehouse apartment. When her mother dies, Edie’s left to put her Silicon Valley ranch house on the market. As someone with an aversion to “adulting,” things don’t go over well for Lisick’s sulky protagonist. Tedious as it is to read about Edie’s self-inflicted struggles, Lisick’s languid prose has a magnetic pull to it (not dissimilar to the experience of watching a Noah Baumbach film). It’s pleasurable to tag along on Lisick’s winding tour through the Bay Area, even if the guide is kind of a drag. Oscillating between booze and boredom, Edie salts her wounds while bemoaning the “self-affirming inspirational platitude graffiti” that’s become rampant in her hometown. Ironically, though, Edie’s been avoiding clichés for so long that she’s inevitably become one. She does eventually learn how to navigate the web, but her self-awareness has a long way to go. Lisick’s stringent humor is what makes this tale worth reading, but the scant growth her character makes toward the book's end just doesn’t feel warranted.

Where the sun always shines, dark shadows will follow.

Pub Date: March 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7333672-0-2

Page Count: 244

Publisher: 7.13 Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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