A satire with hilarious leaps of imagination and a solid core of societal engagement.

Killing Mickey

DEAD RATS TELL NO TALES

Rehor’s debut is a gonzo sci-fi comedy about a near-future world of corporate stranglehold where a programmer trying to escape his past may threaten the future.

When readers first meet Billy Glover, he’s pointing a gun at his dad—and his week only goes downhill from there. That near-patricide turns out to be Billy’s memory, and remembrances of his late dad’s abuse still haunt him in real life. (For example, his dad once gave him a “reverse surprise birthday party,” in which he was promised a celebration but instead ended up raking leaves.) Billy hasn’t fallen far from the tree, though: whereas his dad first worked in psyops for the government during World War II and then developed a new character for Disney, Billy is working on an entertainment system that will allow people to experience real or synthetic memories—the iRemember. He needs the job, as his other options include grim “work camps” for the unemployed or the prospect of joining the terrorist Linux Underground. But when he starts finding copies of one of his childhood drawings around the office, he realizes that he may have more to worry about—including a possibly malfunctioning artificial intelligence. This plot description might make the novel sound like a taut techno-thriller, but Rehor manages something even more impressive here: a hilarious, satirical look at the modern world that deftly balances ridiculous events with some exploration of Billy’s character. Billy may be surrounded by networked appliances—even the coffee maker has a limited AI—but that fact merely emphasizes his sincere isolation, and he remains engaging no matter what’s going on in the near-surreal world around him. There’s a faintly Philip K. Dick-ian sense of paranoiac uncertainty mixed in with Billy’s struggles, but there’s still a lot of laughs as well.

A satire with hilarious leaps of imagination and a solid core of societal engagement.

Pub Date: May 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5330-3688-9

Page Count: 206

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 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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