Bazzle’s novel explores the compromises one makes in life even as it blends the gritty and the extravagant along the way.

TRASH MOUNTAIN

The (metaphorically) long shadow of a massive landfill shapes the destiny of a young man in Bazzle’s bleakly comic debut.

Some people have an idea of their life’s goal from a young age. That’s the case here, as narrator Ben Shippers decides early on that he must destroy the massive pile of garbage located in the landfill beside his childhood home. After an early and failed attempt to burn the landfill down, Ben embarks on a host of quixotic projects to raise enough money to buy a flamethrower, in hopes that his future attempts will work. The landfill comes to stand in for many of the issues young Ben encounters, from his family’s economic problems to the decline of his parents’ marriage to the tensions that exist between his hometown of Komer and the nearby municipality of Haislip, two archetypal small American cities. Gradually, Ben’s assorted odd jobs temper his penchant for destruction—"I guess I had lost some of my terroristic spark, I’m ashamed to admit," he observes—and his friendship with Demarcus, son of a local bar owner, gives him a greater sense of community. The novel has an episodic feel, as Ben encounters an array of fellow students, potential employers, and local luminaries. Throughout, Bazzle chronicles the ways in which Ben’s early idealism erodes under more complex concerns. The novel’s tone is occasionally uneven: Bazzle’s observations on questions of race and class feel rooted in a social realism tradition, while other characters, like a long-winded local businessman and his father, a contentious figure nicknamed “Donkey Dan,” seem imported from a more broadly satirical work.

Bazzle’s novel explores the compromises one makes in life even as it blends the gritty and the extravagant along the way.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59709-910-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Red Hen Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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