One Times One

& OTHER NUMINOUS STORIES OF REDEMPTION AND LOSS

A collection spotlights 14 tales of madness, the possible existence of extraterrestrials, and inescapable fate.

The mere title of “Imminent Doom and His Own Demise” is indicative of all the author’s stories, which are decidedly darker in tone than Frode’s (A Dream of India, 2015) preceding book. In “Doom,” Victor’s torn by his wife’s suicide and is certain that both his and the world’s extinctions are inevitable. It likewise features a recurrent theme among the tales, one of a typically cruel destiny. “On the Stick,” for example, follows robotics engineer Switch, who picks up hitchhiking art student Art, only for the two to cross paths later in a startling turn. Similarly, in the title story, spiritual teacher Penelope bequeaths to her student Caldero a ring that may explain the mystery of the cosmos, while Al-kaid Al-Uqdah of “The Seven Lights” has seemingly been chosen (by the universe, perhaps) as owner of a book and potential key to alien contact. The stories repeatedly tread murky, sometimes-horrific territory. In the memorable “Token,” magician Theodore ignores a warning to steer clear of the bad-spirits–laden oak thicket behind his duplex and fashions a wand from a sapling with frightening results. “The Faithful,” too, is violent—earning a caution from the author in his introduction—but undeniably potent, a brief tale of groups of varying religions suffering persecution and much worse. There are, however, signs of optimism, like the woman in “A Cup of Coffee,” whose kind gesture for a homeless man could lead to an unusual but benevolent payback. Frode also injects a good deal more humor in this collection. Character names, for one, are frequently playful, including the conspicuously christened Destiny (“On the Stick”), plastic surgeon Dr. Cutter (“Knife Skills”), and head of Archaeological Collections and Archives, Archibald Richland VanDigguer (“Collections”). As in the author’s earlier work, his narratives are illustrative, even with minimal action. The contemplative protagonist of “Chayton’s Sky” primarily stands still, “watching the cloud slowly and ponderously writhe and quietly collapse little-by-little eventually into the chaos of the accompanying cloud masses alongside it or into the sky itself.” Often grim but always ruminative stories that turn out to be as eccentric as they are indelible.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-312-76150-6

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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