Haunting stories of sorrow and isolation.

A BRIEF THEORY OF TRAVEL AND THE DESERT

A slim volume of six stories translated from Spanish focusing on the difficulties of communication and on the beauty—and emptiness—of the natural world.

Crusat moves easily between dialogue in which conversations don’t quite intersect and philosophical observations that frame human relationships. “Campsites,” the opening story, serves as a good introduction to Crusat's method. Two people, Olivieri (the narrator) and an unnamed young woman, engage in conversation by their trailers, which are parked in a seedy campground in blazing desert heat. Olivieri is actually with two other women, Nola and Hazel, but seems more attracted to the intimacy hinted at in the other camper’s voice. And perhaps he needs to get away from the irrationality of Nola, who wears headgear supposedly to “protect her against radiation. Electricity, power lines, transmission towers, hidden radio waves....It saps her energy.” As is usual in Crusat’s world of human relationships, Olivieri and his neighbor in the next trailer have the possibility of making a connection but don’t actually do so. The final story gives its name to the entire volume, and once again we find ourselves in an unpromising desert environment in southern Spain. Ben and Magali have recently met so can scarcely be considered connected, yet a Russian hitchhiker has recommended a beach to them. When they arrive, they discover that it’s a nudist beach, and their shedding of clothes begins to allow them to shed some of their inhibitions as well, though the poignant final line of the story could serve as an epigraph to all of Crusat’s stories: “Final hypothesis: Our souls are empty, but they need movement.”

Haunting stories of sorrow and isolation.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-84-944262-3-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Hispabooks

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

This new Baldwin novel is told by a 19-year-old black girl named Tish in a New York City ghetto about how she fell in love with a young black man, Fonny. He got framed on a rape charge and she got pregnant before they could marry and move into their loft; but Tish and her family Finance a trip to Puerto Rico to track down the rape victim and rescue Fonny, a sculptor with slanted eyes and treasured independence. The book is anomalous for the 1970's with its Raisin in the Sun wholesomeness. It is sometimes saccharine, but it possesses a genuinely sweet and free spirit too. Along with the reflex sprinkles of hate-whitey, there are powerful showdowns between the two black families, and a Frieze of people who — unlike Fonny's father — gave up and "congregated on the garbage heaps of their lives." The style wobbles as Tish mixes street talk with lyricism and polemic and a bogus kind of Young Adult hesitancy. Baldwin slips past the conflict between fighting the garbage heap and settling into a long-gone private chianti-chisel-and-garret idyll, as do Fonny and Tish and the baby. But Baldwin makes the affirmation of the humanity of black people which is all too missing in various kinds of Superfly and sub-fly novels.

Pub Date: May 24, 1974

ISBN: 0307275930

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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