THE LUST LIZARD OF MELANCHOLY COVE

Godzilla comes to Pine Cove, nestled somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco, in Moore’s latest foray into the zany and the zonked. If Steve Martin ever wrote a novel, it might be something like Moore’s farcical labors in the field of psychotropic fiction. Here, one knows from the start that not only is nothing sacred to the author but also that nothing is important, and by mid-novel you’re doubtful that anything life-changing will come of this bemused cartooning. Even so, Moore’s latest is marginally less sick and more serious than 1997’s Island of the Sequined Love Nun. It’s September in Pine Cove. Cleaning freak Bess Leander has just hung herself. Investigating is stoned constable Theophilus Crowe. Meanwhile, Bess’s therapist, Valerie Riordan, who counsels a large number of the town’s population and keeps them tranquilized on a variety of psychotropics, gets scared by the statistic that 15 percent of all depressed people commit suicide. This means that perhaps more than 200 of her patients are slated for self-exit, despite her widely dispensed pills—for which she gets a kickback from the local druggist, a dolphin fetishist. When her qualms overcome her, Val instructs the druggist to replace the pills with placebos. As autumn leaves fall, her patients go into withdrawal and self-medicate, en masse, with alcohol. What’s more, elderly Delta guitarist Catfish Jefferson has just been hired to play at the Head of the Slug Saloon, where his marvelously sad blues add to the local scene’s seductive narcosis. Fifty years ago down on the Delta, Catfish first met the Sea Beast, a hundred-foot creature that loved his steel guitar and that has now risen from the depths, awakened by a sexy nuclear radiation leak, to blister the countryside with radiant energies of lust . . . . Patches of good writing break through the looniness and give hope for better things from Moore when his hare-brained imagination settles down. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97506-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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