(Ed.’s note: On 31 October 2001 Professor von Kirkus, suffering from a severe, rough, fishlike scaling, babbling...


From the notebooks of Professor Kruger von Kirkus, Doctor of Lovecraftology:

I first came across this ms. in a labyrinth beneath the earth’s crust, a gigantic calcium cathedral once inhabited, now ravaged and abandoned, and bearing slime traces of the passage of mind-eating telepaths known as Thuun’Ha, the sentient offspring of those cultists of Cthulhu who feed on the brains of luminous lizards and mentally twisted young humans. What to make of these stiffly encrusted pages? Carbon-dating places the eldest back to 1969, while others smell of a mold found only in the fruiting fungi of Arkham House. Indeed, scratched on an early page are the words, “By the Unholy Author of Fruiting Bodies and Other Fungi (1996).” The longest entry in this ms. is labeled “Beneath the Moors” (first published by Arkham House in 1974) and reads like a bad head injury. This tells of a descent into the Devil’s Pool and the crumbling remnants of a long-lost underground fish civilization, if this ichthyotic alien species can be called civilized. Eight shorter entries leave one asking, What’s real? Are you real? Am I? “Dagon’s Bell,” a Lumleyization of Lovecraft’s “Deep Ones,” sets itself not in New England but under the phosphorescent rot and gurgling gases of nauseatingly miasmal kelp off the northeast coast of England. Readers dig at their skin and can barely breathe amid glowing putrescence, their brains choked by clotted and glutinous bursts of speech from slithering, slapping, flopping Deep Ones. “The Sun, the Sea, and the Silent Scream” tells of a woman’s scream so deep no sound comes out. “The Second Wish,” “Big ‘C’,” and “Rising with Surtsey,” all Cthulhu inspired, leave one in a blue glare under a gibbering moon.

(Ed.’s note: On 31 October 2001 Professor von Kirkus, suffering from a severe, rough, fishlike scaling, babbling deliriously, “They’re coming for me!” during a torrential rainfall, vanished into the Yorkshire Moors.)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-87694-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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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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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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