From an often flawed and fast-moving writer, a quasi-mythological moment of reflection.

THE DIVORCE

Another fleeting glance at the deeply strange multitudes living in Aira’s mind palace.

In a delightful surprise, this brief novel is introduced by Patti Smith, who calls Aira “cosmically mischievous and profound.” She’s right; though this is just a palate cleanser for Aira, it's marked by not only his characteristically expressive language, but also his willingness to go just about anywhere with a narrative. Here, a recently divorced man named Kent—his name mentioned just once in a tale that moves at breakneck speed—decides to go to Buenos Aires for a month, leaving his daughter, Henriette, behind in Providence, Rhode Island. As he's chatting in a cafe with video artist Leticia, a new friend, the owner comes out to crank open the awning and drenches a man on the sidewalk with rainwater. The man turns out to be Enrique, who's obviously someone terribly important to Leticia. Aira always writes at the speed of sound, but the velocity here is particularly apparent, enough to be confusing at times. For a while, the narrative focuses on Leticia and Enrique and their providential escape from a fire that consumed the school where they met. Aira delves into the history of his disparate characters, especially Enrique’s involvement in the founding of an “Evolution Club.” Later, the tale introduces a sculptor’s apprentice named Jusepe, mortally wounded by trespasses inflicted upon him in childhood. Later Aira writes: “A clarification is in order here, for it is hard to understand how temporal succession could be denied like this precisely where fashion was moving so quickly, setting its stamp on the passing seasons, months and days more emphatically than anywhere else.” Among Aira’s seemingly ceaseless output, this book is a strikingly effective pause in a world that moves pretty fast these days.

From an often flawed and fast-moving writer, a quasi-mythological moment of reflection.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8112-3093-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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