LETTING LOOSE

Leland (Professor of Aesthetics, 1993, etc.) offers a reprise of the angst and anxieties of the last two decades when three disparate but representative characters look back as the body of a longtime friend is brought home to be buried. Taking place in the days before and after the funeral of Bobbo Starwick, missing in Vietnam for nearly 30 years, three people interweave memories of him with accounts of their own lives since he disappeared. Belva, who was Bobbo's first lover in high school, and Fred, a fellow Vietnam vet and Bobbo's high-school friend, still live in Rhymer's Creek, West Virginia. Barry, the third member of the trio, is Bobbo's gay half-brother, who fled the town 20 years ago for New York. Bobbo was one of those golden boys whom everybody loves: the perfect brother, friend, and lover. But something happened to him in Vietnam. Fred, who saw him there, observed the change, as did his parents when they met him in Hawaii: The war had taken over and Bobbo had become a ferocious killer. Fred himself has never recovered from the war: He can't hold down a job, is troubled by nightmares and, by the day of the funeral, is so undone by memories of the war that he has to be hospitalized. Businesswoman Belva, wanting something more out of life, hitched up with a rich classmate from Tennessee, but the marriage soon broke down and she married safe and dependable Wallace, who doesn't seem to know that she's had numerous lovers over the years. Barry, who has become a photographer famous for his Mapplethorpe-like shots, recalls his antiwar activities in college, his coming-out in New York, and the loss of the only man he has loved to AIDS. With Bobbo laid to rest, the three finally find some peace of their own. All the highs and lows of those times, revisited by a trio who seem more like stock figures than the scar-bearing bereaved.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-944072-69-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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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

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