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THE MUSEUM OF BULLSHIT

An entertaining, nuanced novel set among the world of Bigfoot hunters.

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A trio of Bigfoot hunters scours the Olympic Peninsula for cryptids and redemption in this new literary novel from Rau (Caveman at the End of the World, 2017, etc.).

Louis Price and Lydia Swane arrive at the Olympic Museum of Cryptozoological Studies to see its new exhibit: a supposedly authentic Bigfoot. Lydia, who has been searching for Bigfoot for four decades, isn’t impressed: The museum curator won’t tell her the origin of the already taxidermic specimen, nor will he let her take a hair sample or even a photograph. It’s just another disappointment that makes Lydia, who has recently lost her husband and partner, question if Bigfoot is even out there. “The whole world has changed since I started doing this: now, everyone’s got a high resolution camera in their pocket all the time,” she tells Louis. “In spite of that, instead of seeing more, better quality images of Bigfoot, as one would expect, we’re seeing fewer.” Louis is a believer, but he hasn’t been completely honest about why he asked to tag along on Lydia’s trip. A frequent guest on a right-wing talk show, he has been having his own doubts about his life choices (as well as panic attacks). The unlikely pair set off on a trip around Washington’s remote Olympic Peninsula on a last-ditch attempt to locate proof of America’s great cryptid. When they meet Clyde Whitethunder, a giant man and fellow seeker, the trio finds that together they might uncover answers to questions they haven’t even asked. Rau’s writing is moody and lean, presenting a haunted, melancholy portrait of the peninsula and its denizens: “Everything up here, to Louis’s eyes, seemed somehow temporary. Maybe it was the emptiness of the streets….Maybe it was the fact that the sky had devoured the mountains behind the town and seemed so hungry to eat up anything else it could.” Despite the goofiness of the premise, Rau takes his characters and their search seriously, digging past the footprints and blurry photos to find the broken lives underneath. The author manages to sneak some satisfying twists into the plot—and not of the type that the reader probably expects.

An entertaining, nuanced novel set among the world of Bigfoot hunters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-578-55390-0

Page Count: 195

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

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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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