Having yawned at hyper-decadent L.A. in Less Than Zero (1985), Ellis here seems just as bored with the ultra-hip rich kids wasting time by getting wasted at super-chic Camden College (read: Bennington) in chilled-out New England. For lack of an apparent plot or point, Ellis strings together a series of deliberately listless vignettes, each narrated by one of the many terminally numb characters who sleep walk through this nightmare. At the center of the various competing narratives is the "so good-looking" Sean Bateman, who describes his college pursuits thusly: "Get drunk, screw constantly." And he does both with little concern for anyone else. He lies, cheats, and shoplifts mainly in an effort to cover up the fact that he's mega-rich, but also because he's just plain nasty—to his dying father, his yuppie brother, and to all his lovers at school, especially Paul, an unabashedly gay drama major who's self-deluded enough to misread Sean's cryptic remarks as true love. Sean's all-purpose comments ("Rock 'n' roll" and "Deal with it") eventually infuriate his other main squeeze, Lauren, who took up with Sean only because her lover, Victor, is in Europe. The other indistinct voices heard here belong to Stuart, who lusts for Paul at a distance; Mary, who leaves anonymous mash-notes for Sean, then slashes her wrists when he ignores her at a "Dressed to Get Screwed Party"; Victor, who doesn't even remember Lauren; Mitchell, who's trying to forget his homosexual past with Paul; and so on in this bisexual daisy-chain of a novel. Only Bertrand, a French student who writes articles for the school paper on herpes and Ecstasy (the drug), sounds distinct—his brief bit is transcribed in Ellis' Intermediate French. A few Camden characters from Jill Eisenstadt's new novel (see above) have cameos here—a much-publicized in-joke between these fellow Benningtonites. Without an authorial voice of any kind, it's difficult to blame Ellis himself for the shaky grammar and inept prose, but it does make you wonder.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 1987

ISBN: 067978148X

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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This new Baldwin novel is told by a 19-year-old black girl named Tish in a New York City ghetto about how she fell in love with a young black man, Fonny. He got framed on a rape charge and she got pregnant before they could marry and move into their loft; but Tish and her family Finance a trip to Puerto Rico to track down the rape victim and rescue Fonny, a sculptor with slanted eyes and treasured independence. The book is anomalous for the 1970's with its Raisin in the Sun wholesomeness. It is sometimes saccharine, but it possesses a genuinely sweet and free spirit too. Along with the reflex sprinkles of hate-whitey, there are powerful showdowns between the two black families, and a Frieze of people who — unlike Fonny's father — gave up and "congregated on the garbage heaps of their lives." The style wobbles as Tish mixes street talk with lyricism and polemic and a bogus kind of Young Adult hesitancy. Baldwin slips past the conflict between fighting the garbage heap and settling into a long-gone private chianti-chisel-and-garret idyll, as do Fonny and Tish and the baby. But Baldwin makes the affirmation of the humanity of black people which is all too missing in various kinds of Superfly and sub-fly novels.

Pub Date: May 24, 1974

ISBN: 0307275930

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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