Far from a sanitized fable, this book delivers a highly nuanced and lurid account of one man’s surprisingly spiritual quest.


The Ugly Guys Club


A debut novel chronicles a young Asian-American’s odyssey of frustration and redemption.

To say that David, the narrator of this story, is irked by a lot in life would be an understatement. Feeling as though “the Creator didn’t like me,” David details his coming-of-age in Los Angeles as he attempts to get rich, have sex, and otherwise attain the more tangible rewards in life. But those prizes, despite his best efforts, manage to remain out of reach. Beginning with his stalled pursuit of a girl named Jeannie Kim, who he winds up admitting “never considered me a real man,” David’s long story of embarrassment goes on to incorporate a number of adventures. From his time spent with a pyramid scheme to a stint in Mexico City, his experiences are varied, brutal, and not meant for the squeamish. A lover of movies and professional wrestling, David frequently embraces pop-culture references. When observing a fight at a nightclub in which he spends time as a struggling waiter, David sees a patron “doing the flying body press like Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat.” While such reflections may not be universally understood, they help to humanize the protagonist. David may be short, no friend to the environment (his pastor admonishes him as “the biggest litterbug I have ever seen!”), and downright pathetic, but he is, in the end, just as flawed as the rest of humanity. Though his thoughts delve deeply into the crude (“My schlong was like the Elven sword wielded by Frodo that turned blue whenever the Orcs were near,” he says of his penis), they are never outside the imagination of a man mystified and alienated by modern sexuality. Notable for informative tidbits (such as the concept of “booking” at Asian nightclubs), Oh’s tale also offers some episodes that drag. While much can be gleaned from David’s time as a nightclub waiter (including images of his business cards), readers may find their attentions wandering when the narrative turns to topics such as the markup price of whiskey. Though David’s eventual path to Christianity is long (and bumpy), the final pages of this vulgar, detailed, and amusing novel see a man who has come an extraordinary distance.

Far from a sanitized fable, this book delivers a highly nuanced and lurid account of one man’s surprisingly spiritual quest.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?