THE THIRD EYE

Further refining his distinctive approach to seductive storytelling, Knowles (the novella The Secrets of the Camera Obscura, 1994) digs deep into the head of a Peeping Tom, who finds his peeping perturbed and reason rattled by a woman who seems to know him better than he knows himself. This is no ordinary Tom, however'no, this is a Manhattan-variety voyeur who calls himself Jefferson, a real-estate scion with enough money to buy a building in Soho just to board up the windows facing the prize apartment he sublets cheaply to beautiful young women for a few months. In one of the boarded-up windows is a hole, behind which is a camera, behind which is our man. Taking pictures of his tenants in various states is how Jefferson treats his agoraphobia, a case so severe he can’t hang out in Central Park, let alone leave the city. But his photographs are too good to keep to himself, so he lets his friend Henry, a struggling artist fresh from Indiana, have a peek. Henry is hooked, and with ample encouragement begins to paint versions of the photos. This cozy arrangement unravels, though, when Jefferson’s latest ad brings him Maya, a woman from India, complete with a red dot on her forehead, who is so captivating he forgets all the rules of his game. She gets the apartment, but promptly disappears, leaving Jefferson increasingly frustrated, then worried when he learns Henry is having a show of his photo-paintings at a gallery whose owner Maya knows. As Jefferson frets, he completely loses his grip, although after his meltdown his agoraphobia is gone. Diverse stages of mental distress, described from within this unsavory character, are handled with artful reserve, but the existential mystery of Maya remains just that, with the explanations about her sounding, to echo Henry’s words, like “a big pile of psychic crap.”

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-49706-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

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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

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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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