One Times One


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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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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