Don’t think too hard about this one—just enjoy the sweetness of plotting revenge over cocktails (expensed, of course)....

THE ASSISTANTS

Attention readers fed up with your jobs: call in sick tomorrow and dive into this debut crackling with the energy of handfuls of underpaid, underappreciated, tired-as-heck assistants hungry for what’s owed them.

Tina Fontana is a 30-year-old NYU graduate and executive assistant to billionaire Robert Barlow, CEO of major media company Titan Corporation. She knows the most intimate details of Robert’s life, saving the day for him constantly, and yet she’s stuck living paycheck to paycheck. What’s happened to her? How does she work so hard and never rise above being an assistant while the men around her make fortunes? The answer to Tina’s problems shows up in the form of an expense report. When she’s mistakenly reimbursed for a significantly large sum, she struggles with whether to report the error. For her, this could mean starting over debt free: “I could have savings….All at once I would become less anxious and more generous.” For Titan Corporation, the sum is measly. One major theme of Perri’s debut is this: “There is so much money.” Mostly in the hands of those who don’t deserve it. When Tina decides to keep the money and pay off her student loans, she doesn’t get off scot-free. Emily Johnson, the not-so-nice accounting assistant behind all the signatures, catches her. Now she has to figure out how to pay off Emily’s loans too (oh, and become her best friend), or Tina is as good as ruined. It doesn’t take long for rumors to spread and for Tina to become a hero, the Voice of the Assistant: “I could see how beneath all the lacquer these girls were hungry,” she realizes as her mission becomes greater than herself. Perri’s writing is quippy and the pace breezy; despite all the hurdles Tina has to leap over, things go pretty smoothly. Oh, and the hot, sensitive guy in the office? On her quest to take over Titan, Tina gets him too.

Don’t think too hard about this one—just enjoy the sweetness of plotting revenge over cocktails (expensed, of course). You’ll feel better after reading, promise.

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17254-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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