A gorgeous, human commentary on the paradox of modern life and modern art.


Structured as an interview with a fictional visual artist, Kiefer’s (The Animals, 2015, etc.) novella explores the ambitions and limits of art.

In the middle of an illustrious career, installation artist Frank Poole conceives of his most ambitious project yet: an entire town built from the ground up in the remote desert and then sealed for eternity. Driven by a troubled childhood and an obsession with getting as close as humanly possible to stopping time, Frank agrees to let a single interviewer shadow him during the weeks of creation. A parallel tale quickly develops in the interview, however, about Frank’s young wife/manager, Caitlin, who discovers she's pregnant with their first child. What begins as a lyrical prose poem about the creative process quickly knots into a layered narrative about love, family, art, missed chances, and how we constantly write and rewrite the stories of our lives. The most poignant moments of this self-proclaimed kinoroman, or cinema novel, focus not on Frank as artist but on Frank as wounded human, as terrified father-to-be, and on Caitlin as the woman who gave up her own dreams to follow her husband. Kiefer’s prose is spare and beautiful; like Frank’s white, sealed landscapes, the blank space on the pages carries great weight. One must also wonder whether this serves as a sort of ars poetica for Kiefer, one in which he considers his role in creation, in trying to stop time with words. There is a point where the interviewer observes, “What does he see there but himself, in all those landscapes….Everything a mirror.” In this way, this little novella carries the highest ambition: to articulate how art exists outside of time and is, at once, the purest and most selfish pursuit of all.

A gorgeous, human commentary on the paradox of modern life and modern art.

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9913141-3-3

Page Count: 193

Publisher: Nouvella

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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.


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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