by David Butler ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 3, 2015
A dark romp featuring delightfully crackling dialogue and the mental gymnastics of a protagonist so on edge he tries to...
Will Regan, former copy clerk–turned–35-year-old daydreamer, reflects on his increasingly high-stakes encounters with three seemingly disconnected people in Dublin, a place he’s never left.
As the Dante invocation in the title suggests, the trio circulating in and out of Regan’s days contribute to hellish circumstances. An observer who acted for years as the eyes for his blind mother, Regan sees patterns everywhere. He’s drawn to symmetry by the desire to know if coincidences exist or if fate prevails, a conversation that deepens when he befriends brooding priest Ciaran Crowe. One pattern that Regan mixes up is chronology: he randomly weaves together the absurd consequences set off by seeing Joseph Mary Danaher, a bully from his childhood who is now a burglar responsible for killing an elderly woman. This storytelling foible adds both suspense and levity. It’s often Regan’s acquiescence to others that causes trouble rather than anything he instigates. Danaher invites himself to use Regan’s place as the hideaway for a padlocked bag. Regan saves the second of the trio, Chester Maher, from attempted suicide only to discover that Maher, an amateur composing “an opera without music,” knew his dead mother. She was “the first woman to give [Maher] a number of sleepless nights.” Intrigued by the stranger’s memories, Regan begins rendezvousing with him regularly. The third character anchoring this peculiar milieu is Yelena, a Polish woman he thinks of as his girlfriend despite her insistence that they have no relationship. For her, he signs his name to countless documents he doesn’t understand, perhaps because “the Irishman loves his girlfriend best, his wife the most, but his mother the longest.”A dark romp featuring delightfully crackling dialogue and the mental gymnastics of a protagonist so on edge he tries to silence a yowling cat with poison.
Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015
Page Count: 272
Publisher: New Island Books/Dufour
Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
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
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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