A light touch and steady place, though first-novelist Flusfeder’s ramblings are slow to find a destination and turn tiresome...

READ REVIEW

THE GIFT

In this mad romp through the wilds of London, a burnt-out idealist’s struggles against the onset of middle-aged realism become increasingly desperate.

Phillip is a writer who dreads being asked what he writes, for his projects are more likely to involve instruction manuals than screenplays. Happily married to a beautiful woman and the proud father of bright and witty twin daughters, Phillip nevertheless feels something of a failure. As a boy, he was a promising soccer player who actually made it onto the national juniors and toured to the world match in China—where he shattered his knee and could never play again. He has seen many of his former teammates go on to success in the professional leagues while he’s settled into hotel management and technical writing. But if Phillip is out of the loop, it’s not by far: His London friends are, by and large, successful and accomplished. That’s the problem, of course. His gay chums Barry and Sean, for example, are film producers who can’t resist sending Phillip and family exquisite and costly gifts (a Venetian designer corkscrew; a Chinese jade carving) on the least provocation, and this soon becomes a kind of private penance for Phillip, who feels obliged to reciprocate but can’t keep up with them. His obsession with outdoing Barry and Phillip develops at the same time as does Phillip’s lunatic quest to find Syd Barrett, a onetime member of Pink Floyd who left the band early on and fell into a kind of mythic obscurity. Like all good obsessions, these two land Barry in a variety of bad places (like jail) that help him to concentrate his mind wonderfully and, in the end, find something other (and better) than he’d originally set out for.

A light touch and steady place, though first-novelist Flusfeder’s ramblings are slow to find a destination and turn tiresome after a while.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2003

ISBN: 0-00-715773-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more