A laudable depiction of life within civil unrest and a proficient setup for the trilogy’s conclusion.

SLUM SONG

DISASTER IN THE WIND

In this sequel, wedded bliss for an engaged couple on San Cristobal may be wrecked by a revolutionary group with aspirations of taking over the island.

Former New York executive-turned-philanthropist Robbie Beaufort has a new life in the Caribbean with his fiancee, Julianna Miranda. But lately the couple have been distant with each another. Julianna’s legally married to Pedro, comatose, and on a gastrostomy tube from an injury rendered during a hurricane. Robbie doesn’t want a wedding with Pedro still in the picture but he has qualms about taking him off the feeding tube, unsure whether the man would suffer. This postpones both the marriage and the big house Robbie promised, sparking rancor from Julianna and her young daughter, Alba, who hates admitting to her private academy friends that she lives in the slum. Things take a turn for the better when Julianna believes she’s pregnant with the couple’s first child. But trouble is also close by, evidenced by recurring black flags. Robbie doesn’t initially put much credence in rumors that the flags belong to the Sandinas, South American revolutionaries. Unfortunately, the group sees Robbie as a threat, with his charity work appeasing slum residents and reducing the number of recruits in a potential revolt. Carroll (Slum, 2016, etc.) aptly establishes the slum: it’s imperfect but populated by good people, while the Black Hell is the undeveloped and precarious section to avoid. Much of the plot (perhaps too much) focuses on Robbie obsessed with Pedro’s predicament, even flying in an expert to verify the patient won’t feel anything if doctors pull the feeding tube. The Sandinas, however, are a slowly building menace: short, intermittent perspectives from the group preface a more aggressive strike that leaves death and destruction in its wake. There are few signs of tangible romance between often bickering Robbie and Julianna. But it’s a struggle both realistic and endearing, as they’re fighting to keep everyone in their family together and safe.

A laudable depiction of life within civil unrest and a proficient setup for the trilogy’s conclusion.

Pub Date: April 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-300-88798-0

Page Count: 342

Publisher: Vanity Press

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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