A creep show that earns points for sheer bat-guano craziness.

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LIES BEHIND THE WOODS

A chance encounter during a noon jog sets in motion a plot that is increasingly bizarre and bleak.

Two miles and 16 minutes into his jog on his 25th birthday, Steve Breiten is almost run down by a careening pickup truck. As it passes, he believes he sees the driver restraining a screaming woman. But he waits a week before reporting it to police. Imagine his surprise when, several years later, Tara, the woman from the truck, shows up at his office. She had, in fact, been abducted and, according to her, subjected to unspeakable acts by “some nut job.” But now she has come to say thanks and show her enthusiastic gratitude. “You did асt, and it ѕаvеd my lifе!” she explains. “OK, mауbе it wаѕ lаtе, but I’m аlivе nоw.” She asks to stay the night with him. Steve asks himself, “What does she really want?” and begins to suspect that something is not right with this woman. Ain’t that the truth, but any further synopsizing would come under the heading of major spoilers. To Cornish’s (Dark Obscurity, 2019) credit, the ensuing jaw-dropping revelations could scarcely be anticipated. Things get loopier and loopier until the gut punch of a climax sets up a sequel. The reader is asked to swallow a lot in this dark ride of a book. All characters carry heavy baggage—parental abandonment, physical abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Cornish is also prone to dropping OMG moments without proper exposition, like when Steve tries his best not to succumb to Tara’s seductive advances. “Lеt’ѕ put аѕidе thаt I’ve hаd ѕеx with уоur mother,” he protests. Wait, what? (It’s explained a few pages later). One sex scene gets tangled in mixed metaphors (“He knew she wanted to dance....Thоѕе luscious fаrm-bred apples…now ѕрrеаd оut fоr him likе a banquet, he just hаd tо ѕtор and ѕаvоr her sweet cherries”). A more vigilant editor would have trimmed repetitive sentences and misspellings.

A creep show that earns points for sheer bat-guano craziness.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-578-59361-6

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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