Next book

ARKANSAS

THREE NOVELLAS

Grim, disturbing explorations of the way in which lust and loneliness can destroy the possibility of love, by the author of two story collections (including A Place I've Never Been, 1990) and three novels (While England Sleeps, 1993, etc.). In ``The Wooden Anniversary'' Nathan and Celia are reunited after a five-year separation, and almost immediately misunderstand one another again. Celia, desperately in love with Nathan (who is gay) for many years, having finally pried herself away from him, has lost weight, gotten a husband, and become the proprietress of a successful cooking school in Tuscany. Nathan, ``world weary and travel worn,'' becomes infatuated with Mauro, Celia's handsome young Italian chef, and out of simple lust, or boredom (and, perhaps, with the masochistic Celia's unconscious assistance) sets a devastating farce in motion. ``Saturn Street'' concerns Jerry, a young, deeply disaffected writer in Los Angeles who finds himself increasingly attracted to Phil, handsome, blithe, and dying of AIDS. Leavitt chillingly captures the sense of a devastated gay community in which everyone now ``operates from fear.'' ``The Term Paper Artist,'' the most troubling of the three novellas, plays some unsettling games with fact and fiction. The narrator, ``David Leavitt,'' having been sued by an English poet for passages in his novel While England Sleeps, goes home to California, where he receives a bizarre offer from the handsome, amoral, heterosexual college-age son of family friends: He'll allow David to perform a sex act with him, if he writes a term paper of vital importance. David does so, word circulates, and he finds himself besieged by a variety of straight college boys willing to strike a similar bargain. There's an alarming sense of self-laceration in all this, not much redeemed by the suggestion that the sex (and the research on the papers) somehow stimulates David's hitherto exhausted creative energy. Sad tales of anomie and of confused, contradictory quests for love. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 3, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-83704-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 34


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 34


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • 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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:
Next book

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

Categories:
Close Quickview