THE OTTO DIGMORE DIFFERENCE

From the The Otto Digmore Series series , Vol. 1

A heartwarming story about staying true to yourself whatever others might think.

A struggling actor takes a life-changing road trip with his best friend in this novel.

A childhood accident left Otto Digmore with burns over half of his face, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his dream of becoming an actor. Conventional beauty may be a more prized commodity in Hollywood than talent (Otto doesn’t lack the latter), but he’s managed to land a supporting role on a middling sitcom. Professional success has arrived, but personal happiness is elusive, not the least because the lonely, gay Otto feels pressure to keep his sexuality under wraps. When his show is abruptly canceled, it looks like his career is about to stall just as it’s getting started. An unconventional script offers an opportunity to turn things around, and Otto snags an audition with the A-list director. The only problem? It’s in New Orleans. So Otto and his best friend (and ex-boyfriend), Russel Middlebrook, hit the road. Hartinger (The Road to Amazing, 2017, etc.) returns to the familiar territory of outsiders trying to find their places in a world that prizes conventionality, though this time the milieu is high-gloss Hollywood rather than high school. Fans should be pleased to see the return of Russel, prominently featured in several of the author’s previous works, in a supporting role. But the real star here is Otto, a compelling and sensitively drawn character in his own right. He’s sympathetic but flawed, vacillating between proud self-confidence and nagging self-doubt. A few too-convenient plot developments, like a hitchhiker who teaches Otto a valuable lesson and a threatening redneck in a pickup truck, verge on cliché. But as Russel—a screenwriter steeped in film trivia—points out, this cross-country journey is supposed to evoke classic road-trip movies. In this frank and funny tale, Hartinger does an especially fine job of handling Otto’s complex feelings for Russel without falling back on a generic rom-com happy ending. At times the story feels a bit slight—more like a tale for teens rather than adults—but as a fresh take on the theme of achieving self-acceptance in a world that discourages difference, it delivers.

A heartwarming story about staying true to yourself whatever others might think.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5428-1033-3

Page Count: 228

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2017

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

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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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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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