Beneath all the busy trimmings, though, it's just another reworking of your basic self-reflexive parody incest opera...

WATCH YOUR MOUTH

Handler follows up his waggish debut (The Basic Eight, 1999) with an even more pungent fricassee: a summer's romance turned incestuous and murderous, cast in the form of an opera followed, naturally, by a 12-step recovery program.

Not that Joseph Last Name Changed to Protect the Innocent, as he refers to himself, has anything that outré in mind. What he expects when he signs on as assistant arts and crafts counselor to his girlfriend Cynthia Glass is a placid summer finishing up his junior-year incompletes in the time off from commuting between suburban Pittsburgh's Camp Shalom by day and Cynthia's enthusiastic bed by night. Oh, he's willing to vary the routine via the woods around Camp Shalom, the back of Cyn's car, and the occasional vertical bonk. What he's not willing to countenance is an incestuous streak that guarantees you'll never confuse this Glass family with J.D. Salinger's. Dad and Mom ("call me Mimi") lust respectively after their daughter and son, and young Ben pines for his big sis. The Glasses don't just pine either, as Joseph acknowledges every night when Cyn leaves his damp bed for her father's. Fortunately for Cyn's grandmother, the old lady dies before confessing any desire she might have to repossess her own flesh. The rest of the Glasses follow more violently, falling victim one by one to somebody the cops in Pittsburgh, California (don't ask), think is Joseph and Joseph thinks is the golem Mimi was building in her basement. No jest is too broad (Mimi's physician is named Dr. Zhivago), no simile too indecorous for Joseph's desperately coy unfolding of his summer of discontent and its sequel, as self-satisfied allusions from Kafka to Nabokov to Bill W. jostle for recognition.

Beneath all the busy trimmings, though, it's just another reworking of your basic self-reflexive parody incest opera mystery. About average for the genre.

Pub Date: July 21, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-20940-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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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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