EIGHTY-FIVE HALLOWEENS

An octogenarian recalls his life in a collection of anecdotes.

  Harris writes “for pleasure and for the occasional shock of revelation when my writing uncovers a personal secret I’ve been keeping from myself.” It is both this humor and catharsis that punctuate many of the 100-plus stories spanning the author’s eight decades. The writings are medicinal within the backdrop of Harris’ psychiatric journeys, but the passing of his psychiatrist impels a different, if not cheaper, remedy. What better way to get relief than cutting your income in half because you no longer have to financially support your doctor? These occasionally self-deprecating tales are semi-chronological, but they are also sometimes more like disorganized ramblings that, overall, seem to have little coherence or identity. The grab bag of yarns does well on the level of individual stories, depending mostly on an occasional quick wit or clever observation. The speculation on the meaning of a mother mashing her son’s middle finger in the car door is irreverent and funny. The theory that everyone needs a nemesis is certainly made more interesting by the tenant Marbo, a man whose health actually improves when he is once again able to regularly argue with someone. And most readers (probably men) will be able to relate to the counsel of relationship love tests or the futility of arguing with your wife, no matter how high the temperature climbs. These stabs for humor or philosophy, however, endure two very evident shortcomings. One is that they are too few and far between. There is certainly an accumulation of living in 80+ years, but the author’s experiences aren’t overly exciting or compelling. Part of this problem is in the writer’s identity. Readers learn that Harris wrote some pieces for the San Francisco Chronicle, but his renown ends there. The other shortcoming is the medium. It could very well be that Harris is a great storyteller, but writing is simply a poor conveyance. The reader might get the sense that people named Old Dutch, Horse-Face Horace or Eye-Ball Brown are more compelling or funny in the oral tradition of storytelling. Perhaps the stories are just more in the vein of, “You had to be there.”   An often-aimless collection more suited to a different medium.

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-1602646384

Page Count: 304

Publisher: VBW Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2011

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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