A pleasure from first to last: Lodge gets better and goes deeper in each book.

DEAF SENTENCE

Another wise, witty look at the human condition from Lodge (Author, Author, 2004, etc.).

Linguistics professor Desmond Bates’s increasing deafness led him to take early retirement from his university in a northern English city. So now, in November 2006, he has little to do beyond visit his elderly father in London and perform the routine chores his wife Fred no longer has time for, thanks to her thriving interior-design business. Accompanying Fred to a noisy party in an art gallery, Desmond politely says yes to a question he hasn’t heard from an attractive blonde. She’s Alex Loom, an American getting her doctorate at his university, and at a subsequent meeting Desmond learns that she wants him to supervise her research on suicide notes. He hastily declines, but Alex isn’t easily discouraged. She’s also a liar and plagiarist with some pretty kinky sexual ideas. Desmond hasn’t done anything wrong, really, but he’s anxious to keep Alex from becoming another issue between him and Fred, who’s already annoyed by his excessive drinking and his lack of enthusiasm for the socializing she enjoys. Meanwhile, his father’s mental and physical health worsens, and an awkward family Christmas gathering reaches its comically awful nadir when both of Desmond’s earpiece batteries go dead. Taking the offer of a British Council lecture tour in Poland, complete with a trip to Auschwitz, seems like a sensible means of getting away from his problems. Of course, his pregnant daughter gives birth and his father has a stroke while Desmond is in Poland. No summary can do justice to the artful blend of humor and poignancy with which Lodge delineates the musings of a man facing his own aging and infirmities (Desmond’s virility is almost as iffy as his hearing) as well as the impending loss of his father. Suffice it to say that the book is wonderfully funny and extremely moving as Desmond reaches new accommodations with the people he loves and finds new serenity in the face of mortality.

A pleasure from first to last: Lodge gets better and goes deeper in each book.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-670-01992-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

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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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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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