Conjuring shades of Steinbeck’s meditations on nature, this enjoyable, pleasant yarn passes like the cool summer breezes...

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MAN FROM THE SKY

In this short but sweet novella, Wynn spins an enjoyable tale of lost souls colliding in the most unlikely of places.

Jaime is a lonely yet wealthy man living a leisurely, slightly boring, life in an inherited house by the sea in a small, remote Spanish village. While walking near his home, he sees a strange sight: a man parachuting from an airplane and landing a few yards in front of him, just before his plane crashes into the sea. Eventually, Jaime learns that the man, Stefan, is a wanderer like himself, only one who comes from a very different background. Through a strange series of circumstances, the two men find themselves doing what neither thought they would end up doing: trying to sell a large quantity of narcotics in a very short amount of time. Along the way, Stefan discovers that perhaps Jaime’s subdued, quiet way of living is just what he’s needed all along, and Jaime hesitantly longs for a taste of the adventures that Stefan has been struggling through all his days. Sometimes, as the novel shows, what we want isn’t necessarily what’s best for us. Though his writing is at times clunky, Wynn understands the value of honestly drawn and organic characters in moving along a plot that doesn’t quite end with a bang. In fact, the novella’s greatest weakness is its ending. Though the abruptness of the final pages fits the tone of the story, it’s a frustrating ending to a narrative that was just beginning to heat up. Stefan’s love interest comes out of nowhere and has the qualities of a deus ex machina. Still, there are real moments of beauty and wonder as well as passages that speak of Wynn’s ability to understand the inherent frailty of the human condition: “He felt like he was gradually being erased. As if his lack of meaningful human contact and lack of function was causing him to disappear, parts of him already transparent, holes that other people could see through. He was afraid that one day he’d look in a mirror and wouldn’t see anyone.”

Conjuring shades of Steinbeck’s meditations on nature, this enjoyable, pleasant yarn passes like the cool summer breezes described within its pages.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988877993

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Bacon Press Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2014

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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