Suited to an audience of like-minded, weary-to-the-bone readers who will find much to sympathize with in these pages.



Poems that commemorate, if not exactly celebrate, the state of motherhood.

There’s a time for having “a guy spread my legs / on a pool table,” and then there’s a time for making oatmeal. That’s not exactly how the poet of Ecclesiastes put it, but it’s close enough to enfold this collection, the second from Texas-based writer Fountain. Writing in unadorned language in a kind of flat, featureless tone, she evokes the weariness attendant in bringing a baby into being and then tending it in safety in what is, after all, a precarious existence. “All I want to do is go home / and take off these pants / and make Tuscan bean soup,” she writes, breaking from her favored couplets in an onrush of exasperation. The feel is often bittersweet, almost elegiac, as Fountain writes of such mundane events as flying with a baby, distracting her from the clamor with “a hundred Cheerios, one by one,” and wishing that the sensory apparatus be turned off so as not to remind her of the monotony (“brainwashing / sounds great / like the feeling // you get when you stand up / too quickly”). Fountain’s language is formal but not grand, so when she steps into less-controlled diction (“Why do these / ducks make my soul go nuts”), it’s noticeable. In the end, one feels that a major victory has been accomplished when a poem is finished without too much interruption and “the baby sleeps and sleeps.” 

Suited to an audience of like-minded, weary-to-the-bone readers who will find much to sympathize with in these pages.

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-14-312663-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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