THE GODS OF GOLF

Two golf-lovers team up for a comic first novel. Our hero and narrator, Tom Cruickshank, is playing perhaps his worst round of golf ever at Pine Valley, and since his boss has a deal riding on Tom's performance, he may lose his job. Then Tom is whisked away by an elderly golfer named Harry Brady, magically transported to the greens of Mount Augustus, the most difficult course in the universe because it's ruled by Scottish gods every bit as capricious as those in the Greek pantheon. If Tom plays a great round, Harry assures him, he'll enjoy a reward from the Great God MacKenzie himself—and, since time doesn't exist on Mount Augustus, Tom can return to his earthly match only moments after leaving. In fact, Tom is, without his knowledge, being auditioned as Harry's replacement as the gopher for the gods: In exchange for certain favors, Harry long ago agreed to keep the immortals supplied with Cuban cigars, fancy perfumes, and vintage liquor from the mortal world. Smith and Holms have a lot of fun with this, using holes one through eighteen to portray the various lesser gods of golf such as Mulligan, god of excuses; Divot, god of bad lies; Twitch, god of putting; and Lorena, a foul-smelling harpy who presides over the wicked slice. Best of all are Wendell and Ruppert, hucksters who talk like siding salesmen, the gods of winter rules; and the hated MacTavish, the legalistic, entirely unreasonable god of all rules. Days pass, Harry disappears, and Tom even falls in love before he's brought to trial in the clubhouse, accused of cheating. Threatened with spending eternity in the celestial foundry, Tom negotiates a clever deal and marches back to the next hole at Pine Valley with every confidence he'll win the round. Aimed at the country club set, and very funny.

Pub Date: July 11, 1996

ISBN: 0-671-54684-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1996

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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