HEAD INJURIES

A debut novel that progresses like crisscross dreams in a damaged head, by a young Englishman whose work has appeared largely in horror and fantasy anthologies. Narrator David Munro, a second-rate painter, has not seen his college roomie Seamus “Shay” Cope since he threw a teacup at him three years ago. But now their shared companion, Helen Soper, has called David to the English seaside town of Morecambe to help revive the unlovable Seamus, who’s now suffering some mystery malaise that affects Helen as well’something shapeless and ugly that is unfolding and that David has begun to feel as well. It’s winter and something cryptic is exploding within them. Odd figures spur childhood memories; as in a dream, a strange woman in a car slowly parts the skin of David’s cheek with her fingernail. Memories filter back: Had Seamus and their schoolmate Dando tried to drown a dog, then tie up David, nearly drown him in mud, and start to bugger him? Seamus tells David about a caving tragedy in New Mexico when his fellow caver got stuck and died of cold—which reminds David of Seamus nearly drowning him in mud. Bad karma comes twisting around David in the form of a murdered girl. Did MacCreadle, a horrible figure from their childhood, do it? Helen explains to David that they—re being stalked. But by whom? The three friends slowly form their own vocabulary to describe the events befalling them. And so they stumble vaguely on, David and Seamus with dreams of suffocation. It’s as if, Seamus says, —we’ve opened up our heads and nailed them together so that we’re all sharing the same Widescreen movie.— By novel’s end, their worst secrets have fountained upward in a collective dawning and bloodletting. The spine of this waking nightmare is a sad, gasping loneliness, into which any bad thought can fall and spear you. The family love that at last fills this vacancy is quite moving.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1998

ISBN: 1-899344-36-5

Page Count: 206

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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

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