1998: THE YEAR OF THE BEAST

Hang on to your hats, folks, as we blast off for the spacey realm of international terrorism, apocalypse, and numerology. It all starts when Alabama Senator-turned-Vice President Samuel Harrot is assassinated during half-time festivities at the 1998 Sugar Bowl. The triggermen are soon found blown to pieces in their getaway boat, and the trail dies with them—except for Brad Yeary, the New Orleans Times-Gazette reporter who, now unable to wrap up his pregame interview with Harrot, dopes out that Harrot's collapse means murder by parlaying a few lucky breaks into a big story. But it's just those breaks that draw the attention of the desperate FBI and the Secret Service, especially since Brad's girlfriend, Jill Crenshaw, is elevated to the Senate when Louisiana Senator Benjamin Ashford is nominated to succeed Harrot. Intent on clearing himself and Jill from suspicion as well as on landing the true story of the assassination, Brad huddles with down-home Rev. William Hutteth, who points out that 1998 equals 666 (the biblical number of the Beast) times 3—and that the year falls in the middle of the turbulent dozen years bracketed by the reversible dates 1991 and 2002. Hutteth is convinced, and soon Brad is too, that the killing was provoked by militant Muslims, but all the evidence points much closer to home—to a plot to prune Harrot from the Executive Branch that goes all the way to the top. In the manicured hands of Jeffrey Archer, this delirious scenario might have produced a camp classic, but first-novelist Cawood (Tennessee's Coal Creek War, not reviewed) plots too dutifully—even the Kentucky Derby finale fizzles—and writes too earnestly (though there are nuggets to provide much fun: ``Anonymity was his sought after companion,'' muses Brad in a contemplative mood). For regional sports fans and Arab-bashers only. Everybody else is likely to agree with Jill's final verdict: ``I don't like politics, Brad.'' (First printing of 30,000; $30,000 ad/promo budget; author tour)

Pub Date: May 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-9642231-9-8

Page Count: 312

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more