A sparkling ode to music’s most enduring legend.


In Koeff’s debut novel, a man stumbles upon a hermit who may be the King of rock and roll.

Roy Redford has a fear of flying creatures, and to battle this phobia, he’s taken up bird-watching. On a day off from his job at the High Towers Casino Resort, he visits Zion National Park in Utah. While watching for birds on a cliff face, he sees something fall—something bigger than a bird. While investigating, Roy finds a battered acoustic guitar and an ornate, red, sequined jumpsuit. He climbs along narrow, rocky pathways and eventually hears some “sweetly majestic” singing. However, the singer, a naked elderly man, doesn’t take kindly to the intrusion. From his ramshackle cabin, he blasts Roy with a shotgun. When the bird-watcher awakes, he’s inside the cabin with a bandaged right leg. Roy discovers that the hermit, though “weathered with age...was surprisingly handsome.” The man wishes to be called “Friend,” has a pet monkey named Pistol, and possesses a beautiful voice, reminiscent of Elvis Presley’s. Later, a storm brings chaos to the hermit’s oasis, and Roy must act quickly to save his life. Upon leaving, Roy promises never to tell anyone about the cabin. Yet his souvenirs—the aforementioned guitar and jumpsuit—beg to be explained. In this clever, heartfelt work, Koeff writes not just for lovers of the King, but for anyone fascinated by modern mythmaking. Roy’s sleuthing eventually leads him to Katherine Florence, a writer who’s strictly interested in Elvis-related facts, which include the existence of a twin brother named Jesse and numerous impersonators, including a man named Sid Hooper. The details of Roy’s own story lend much to the narrative, as well, such as the death of his brother, Matthew, and his casino job, in which he mingles with gamblers to conjure a good-time atmosphere. Friend’s advice to “find a job where folks are taken care of, not just taken,” is splendid and suitable for anyone. Koeff also captures the American Southwest in gorgeous lines such as, “Up ahead lie hundreds of miles of brown sun scorched emptiness...one might as well be traveling into space.”

A sparkling ode to music’s most enduring legend.

Pub Date: April 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5301-9411-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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