Sweetly silly and very wise. This is what we want to put back in place when the city pulls out of the nightmare.



A fond fable from what one hopes is not a vanished New York.

So deft and so deeply kind is Trillin (Family Man, 1998, etc.) that this send-up of Mayor Giuliani, written before the September disaster, instead of collapsing like a dead soufflé, survives high and light. Courteous, friendly, family man Murray Tepper has become a burr under Mayor Ducavelli’s saddle. His crime? Parking. Mr. Tepper, a modest Manhattan businessman, who became expert in the arcane specialty of street-parking regulations in the ’70s and ’80s, now, at his wife’s request, rents space in a garage convenient to his home. But, at the turn of the millennium, though he could safely stow the car in its slot and forget it, he has taken to exercising his street parking savvy and rights in the evening and on weekends. It’s not a big deal. He just likes to drive to one of those a nice parking spots he knows as well as anyone alive, pay the meter if necessary, take out the paper, and enjoy a nice read. The parking is always scrupulously legal (he wouldn’t dream of refilling a meter.), but Tepper’s making trouble. Other parkers, taking his presence in the car to indicate imminent departure, become routinely incensed when he politely waves them on. His wife, friends, and business associates have begun to worry. Why would anybody spend time parking on the streets when there’s this perfectly good and paid-for spot in the garage? Tepper, though always polite, provides no explanation, pointing out only that he is parking legally. But not, apparently, morally. Fussbudget Mayor Ducavelli (“Il Duce” in the tabs), reading a city column about Tepper’s odd abuse of parking rights, takes Tepper for a saboteur of civil order and sics the police on him. The mayoral harassment becomes quickly public, and Tepper, despite his innate modesty, becomes something of a city hero for standing up to the bully.

Sweetly silly and very wise. This is what we want to put back in place when the city pulls out of the nightmare.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-50676-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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