A thought-provoking prediction of where constant misinformation can eventually lead.

AS SEEN IN A MIRROR

BEGINNING OF THE END

Rocke’s (A Twilight in the Morning, 2014) speculative series starter takes a dark look at a world of “fake news.”

In this volume set in the near future, Josh Cunningham is an investigator for the truth-verification division of an organization known as SEH. His job: to determine the origins of major news stories. As the novel opens, he’s assigned to look into the murder-suicide of a Canadian man who was supposedly infected with “The Disease,” the latest rumored global pandemic. However, try as he might, Josh can’t explain away the outbreak as a mere fabrication. While following up on another Disease-related suicide in Savannah, Georgia, he meets Jim Burillo, who offers his own conspiracy theories on the brewing epidemic. Josh then contacts his old classmate, research chemist Luke Baer, who won’t admit to what he knows about a suspicious group known only as CDV. Along the way, Josh’s division gets shut down, and some people whom he knows either die or disappear. Then Josh himself is abducted, and his kidnappers get him hooked on a new drug. As the Disease spreads, global panic sets in. Events come to a head as the book ends, but the conclusion offers little resolution. Some readers may wish that the author had wrapped up a few more plotlines in such a dense novel, and the fact that it takes nearly 400 pages to reveal the conspiracy behind the Disease is disappointing. Still, Rocke’s vigorous pace makes the volume seem shorter than it is, and it offers an important examination of what happens to the truth in a world full of fakery. When the average citizen believes in nothing, the book warns, it allows people in power to drive narratives as they see fit. Rocke also presents fully developed characters in Josh, Luke, and Jim, although the villains’ motivations are less clear—as they should be.

A thought-provoking prediction of where constant misinformation can eventually lead.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-420-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

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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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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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