GLASS HOUSE

The author of three mysteries (The Emerald Lizard, 1990, etc.) and coauthor of a TV documentary on David Duke, Wiltz was inspired by the 1980 shooting of a white New Orleans policeman and its bloody aftermath to focus on the issue of race relations in her city—resulting in a gripping, thought-provoking drama that begins with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: ``As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.'' Thea Tamborella is not sure she wants the inheritance her Aunt Althea has thrust upon her: a Garden District mansion on the all- white end of Convent Street. The house harbors painful memories for Thea, who was forced to live there after her parents, grocers on the wrong side of town, were shot to death by a robber. Pushed into an exclusive private school, expected to take her place in New Orleans society, teenaged Thea waited out her Convent Street sentence until she was old enough to flee to the East Coast. Returning ten years later, she finds little changed, but everything made more so: Delzora Monroe, her aunt's housekeeper and once Thea's closest friend, still dusts the furniture but is perhaps a little more surly; her son, Burgess, once Thea's playmate, still charms with his smile but makes his living now as a drug dealer; Thea's high-school boyfriend, Bobby, is as ineffectual a rich boy as ever; while Sandy and Lyle Hindemann, once the golden society couple, have created a beautiful home and family, only to live in utter terror of the black ``mobs'' across St. Charles Avenue. As Thea renovates her house, she finds herself swept up again in the city's reciprocal fear, suspicion, and resentment, until the hair- trigger inter-racial tensions are tripped once again and men on both sides of the avenue take up arms. Never pedantic, always fair: Wiltz's message is that fear—and guns—are the enemy, and the choice is to not kill or be killed. A calm, quiet voice that deserves to be heard.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8071-1864-8

Page Count: 189

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more