The Gibbering was too good an idea to spend on fantasy.

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PSYCHAMOK

Hardcover of the final volume of the Psychomech Trilogy, formerly a 1995 paperback. Lumley’s most recent book in the States: Beneath the Moors and Darker Places (2002).

In all three installments, British Army Corporal Richard Garrison, blinded by a terrorist bomb, uses expanded brainpower to fight psychic villains. In Psychomech (1984), this power comes from the infernal machine named Psychomech, a mechanical psychiatrist begun by a German SS psychiatrist to help the Nazis build supermen. It does seem to vanquish death and indeed allows Garrison to revive a cryogenically preserved dead lover. Volume two, Psychosphere, locks Garrison into a paranormal place where he’s a multimind. His powers leak into the Psychosphere, empowering it, until he electrotransitions himself violently into the Psychosphere and begins to purge and purify the planet of its evils. Now, in Psychomok, there have been 20 years of peace on Earth when Psychomech goes mad and a million people, including Garrison’s son, Richard Stone, fall under the irreversible plague of insanity called The Gibbering—with only Richard, who has inherited his father’s mental powers, able to fight the horror and battle the bubble-brained mind-machine. When Richard’s mother, the woman brought back from the dead, is bisected in an auto accident, her remains shrivel, mummifying into her earlier death. The dead villain of Psychosphere, Charon Gubwa, a mental giant of ESP, returns as a telepathic fungi, invades J. C. Craig, an earlier co-builder of Psychomech, and orders him to build a new machine. Then Richard escapes and resumes his love affair with Craig’s daughter Lynn, although—to stay rational or even make love—he must force out a stream of obscenity to keep The Gibbering at bay. Chased by Craig’s hirelings, the lovers go on the run. Richard finds he can materialize food and teleport himself by thought. The final battle? Rather earthly.

The Gibbering was too good an idea to spend on fantasy.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-765-30481-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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