GIRL WITH CURIOUS HAIR

Wallace follows his debut novel (The Broom of the System, 1986) with this collection of nine stories and a John Barthian novella. The best of the pieces, often drawn from the media or topical events, are inventive, entertaining, and inspired, while others—including the novella—can be all too glib and mannered. "Little Expressionless Animals" (which received the 1988 John Train Humor Prize from the Paris Review) is a zany, fast-paced romp through la-la land: Julie, a bleached-blonde lesbian with an idiot-savant brother, lives through a three-year winning streak on Jeopardy. Wallace—along with the reader—has a great deal of fun with backstage politics and a media-inspired hysteria that wrecks people. Meanwhile, the title story turns Less Than Zero into parody: a young Republican hangs out with a group of L.A. punks (Gimlet, Big, and Mr. Wonderful) at a Keith Jarrett concert—the tale is tantalizing in its facility with its milieu (here, Wallace's feverish prose finds a fitting subject) and even the expected stylized violence at the end outflanks clich‚ In "My Appearance," an anxious actress narrates the antics surrounding her appearance on The David Letterman Show. While there is a little too much media analysis (Wallace is fatally fixated at times on superficial forms of glamour), there is also some good satire. After those three stories, however, the pickings grow thin: "Lyndon" is a predictable, too facile mock-memoir about LBJ written by an aide and shot through with quotes about the former President, while "Here and There" and "Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way" (the novella) are jargon-ridden, archly metafictional, and too clever for their own good: the novella, especially, is surprisingly jejune. In all, the work of a prodigious but still developing talent too much impressed with his own gifts and with some current critical theory.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 1989

ISBN: 0393313964

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1989

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

Did you like this book?

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more