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


From the The Otto Digmore Series series , Vol. 1

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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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

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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