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. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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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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