Assured, often lyrical and true to the world of the star-maker machinery behind the popular song. A lively complement to...

EVENING’S EMPIRE

Satisfying, near-epic tale of a British rock band, from the fresh young faces of the ’60s to the melting-cheese faces of today.

For his latest fictional foray into the entertainment biz (New Bedlam, 2007, etc.), MTV vice president Flanagan takes as his narrator/protagonist Jack Flynn, a born rock ’n’ roll manager who is therefore destined always to be a disappointment to his pious Irish parents. Especially when the budding young solicitor is disbarred after a drug arrest, a bum rap that puts the members of The Ravons forevermore in his debt. (He pocketed their dope.) These young British rockers are, of course, spoiled children with enormous appetites for sex and drugs; they’re also on a mission to conquer the world. Relating his tale in a bittersweet voice from the vantage of the present, meaning that he is now in his late 60s, Jack charts The Ravons’ rise and eventual fall; their demise, naturally, is a sordid matter of money, jealousy and publishing rights. Flanagan is note-perfect, particularly on the small details of life back in the day: “We forget now that airplanes, restaurants, movie theaters, taxis, offices and homes were all full of smoke then. There were ashtrays in every armrest.” The Ravons are one- or two-hit wonders, and they break up a third of the way into the narrative, but there’s much more to the story—many more opportunities, that is, for egos to swell, tempers to flare and adenoids to trill. In the end, Jack pulls off the near-impossible, reuniting The Ravons for a world tour that has all the earmarks of a Spinal Tap outing. Suffice it to say that in the end he learns once again that no good deed goes unpunished.

Assured, often lyrical and true to the world of the star-maker machinery behind the popular song. A lively complement to Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, Mark Hudson’s The Music in My Head and Laurence Gonzales’s Jambeaux.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-4845-7

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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

Did you like this book?

more