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


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 first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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