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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?