PERIPHERAL VISION

IRREGULAR ESSAYS FROM PUBLIC RADIO

Bouchier’s (A Few Well Chosen Words, 2008, etc.) fourth collection of his public radio commentaries reads like a top-of-mind brainstorm.

Covering topics from prejudice to politics, Bouchier pontificates in manageable, bite-sized meanderings on everything from the mundane—such as remembering computer passwords—to end-of-the-world prophesies. For Bouchier, no topic is too big or too small to take a position. In “Global Absolutely Everything,” he addresses the sad reality that just about everything we buy in America is made somewhere else. “They Know Where You Are” is his defense of the need for road maps even in the age of GPS. He takes on a few serious subjects—“The Voice of Authority” highlights the negative messages being broadcast to viewers through reality television, and “No Place to Hide” laments the loss of personal privacy—and also chimes in with a personal pet peeve or two, as in “A Glass of Penguin and Thou,” in which he discusses his irritation with modern winemakers who are taking the culture and mystique out of being a wine enthusiast with their silly labels and often crass names. (He drives his point home by using an example from James Bond’s Goldfinger in which an assassin posing as a wine waiter gives himself away by claiming that claret is not a Bordeaux, noting: “Bond killed him of course, which was only right.”) Bouchier peppers many of the short vignettes with deadpan wit but also freely displays his humorous side in essays like “Never Again” in which he regales the reader with his thoughts on the annual avalanche of seasonal catalogs—especially those that promise to permanently solve just about every issue from shower mold to cushions sliding off the chair, noting that he has neither a problem with shower mold, nor sliding chair cushions, as his are held firmly in place by his cats. Filled with humorous, wry, often spot-on observations of real life in today’s world, Bouchier’s insightful musings are not to be missed.

 

Pub Date: July 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615458922

Page Count: 462

Publisher: Mid Atlantic Productions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2012

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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