Stylishly written, cleverly observed, and boldly imagined.

BOOMER1

After his academic job search, his journalistic career, and his marriage proposal go down in flames, an angry young man moves into his mother's basement and starts a radical movement that pits millennials against baby boomers.

Cassie and Mark, both bluegrass musicians, meet at a gig in Williamsburg, where "maybe fifty bespectacled recent college grads milled around drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon from the can and Miller High Life from the bottle." Cassie reflexively rebuffs Mark's friendly overtures, fearing that her girlfriend will notice and take umbrage. (Perhaps girlfriend is not the right word. "They lived together in a kind of Heiddegarian phenomenological relationship present, in which only the present moment of drinking or playing music or fucking existed, an immediate Dasein of mutually undecided and uncommented-upon cathexis, Eros and lust.") Despite Cassie's lack of enthusiasm, the two soon find themselves in a band, a relationship, and a shared apartment. But shortly after Mark gets her a fact-checking gig at the glossy magazine where he's on staff, their lives take starkly different turns. He loses his job, spends a year writing an essay on Emma Goldman that no one reads, then makes a financial and romantic mistake so serious he is forced to move home to Baltimore. There, he puts on a David Crosby mask, sets himself up in front of an upside-down poster of Jerry Garcia, and begins to issue YouTube screeds against baby boomers. His message: Retire now, greedy pigs, and free up the jobs for us. The videos go viral. Cassie, meanwhile, is riding a wave of good luck. She's become Director of Research at a new media company called RazorWire and is having a passionate relationship with a brilliant female co-worker. The money is fantastic even if the job is something less than that, fact-checking articles like "Seventeen Great New Recipes That Use Splenda Instead of Sugar." But when Mark, now known as Boomer1, loses control of his movement, bad things start to happen, first to Bob Weir, Eddie Bauer, Jann Wenner, and the AARP. Torday's (The Last Flight of Poxl West, 2015) gifts as a writer are brilliantly displayed in the details of Cassie's and Mark's inner and outer worlds. A third main character, Mark's mother, is not as compelling, and when this ambitious social novel comes to rest with her, it loses some steam.

Stylishly written, cleverly observed, and boldly imagined.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-19179-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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