A deft bit of Lodgian satire of writers, media, and writing—with teeth as sharp as ever, but also with a heart, however...

HOME TRUTHS

Adapted by the author from a stage play of his own—with the result that it’s, well, a bit stagy—Lodge’s effort even so offers a satiric nougat that’s sweet indeed and less frothy than one might think.

What is a rich, famous, successful, divorced—and lonely—British TV scriptwriter to do when a high-profile interview in London’s Sunday papers turns out to be a scathing indictment of his shallowness and vanity, not to mention his piggish treatment of women? Well, if the scriptwriter is Sam Sharp, who’s heading for L.A. that very morning for some splashy studio work, the answer is this: quickly work up a revenge scenario, the first step being, on the way to the airport, to drop in on your oldest friend, the once-promising but now fallow novelist Adrian Ludlow and Adrian’s attractive wife Eleanor. Sam’s idea: if only Adrian will consent to be interviewed by the same famous but malicious journalist who so disastrously interviewed Sam, Adrian could, well, gather his own information, and, turning the tables, publish a scathing indictment of—ah, yes, of the infamous Fanny Tarrant, who, appearing at Adrian’s house to interview him on the appointed day, turns out to be young, pretty, intelligent, and curiously captivating to Adrian, who will, indeed, tell her far too much, revealing elements of his past that in intertwined ways implicate not only Sam but also unsuspecting wife Eleanor. How could he have done it? And how will all end? On that Sunday morning when the damaging interview is to appear, the reader will be every bit as much on chair’s edge as are Adrian and Eleanor—and will be every bit as surprised, and perhaps as moved, by the outcome.

A deft bit of Lodgian satire of writers, media, and writing—with teeth as sharp as ever, but also with a heart, however little be the book, that’s great, large, and full.

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-14-029180-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

THINGS FALL APART

Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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THE SECRET HISTORY

The Brat Pack meets The Bacchae in this precious, way-too-long, and utterly unsuspenseful town-and-gown murder tale. A bunch of ever-so-mandarin college kids in a small Vermont school are the eager epigones of an aloof classics professor, and in their exclusivity and snobbishness and eagerness to please their teacher, they are moved to try to enact Dionysian frenzies in the woods. During the only one that actually comes off, a local farmer happens upon them—and they kill him. But the death isn't ruled a murder—and might never have been if one of the gang—a cadging sybarite named Bunny Corcoran—hadn't shown signs of cracking under the secret's weight. And so he too is dispatched. The narrator, a blank-slate Californian named Richard Pepen chronicles the coverup. But if you're thinking remorse-drama, conscience masque, or even semi-trashy who'll-break-first? page-turner, forget it: This is a straight gee-whiz, first-to-have-ever-noticed college novel—"Hampden College, as a body, was always strangely prone to hysteria. Whether from isolation, malice, or simple boredom, people there were far more credulous and excitable than educated people are generally thought to be, and this hermetic, overheated atmosphere made it a thriving black petri dish of melodrama and distortion." First-novelist Tartt goes muzzy when she has to describe human confrontations (the murder, or sex, or even the ping-ponging of fear), and is much more comfortable in transcribing aimless dorm-room paranoia or the TV shows that the malefactors anesthetize themselves with as fate ticks down. By telegraphing the murders, Tartt wants us to be continually horrified at these kids—while inviting us to semi-enjoy their manneristic fetishes and refined tastes. This ersatz-Fitzgerald mix of moralizing and mirror-looking (Jay McInerney shook and poured the shaker first) is very 80's—and in Tartt's strenuous version already seems dated, formulaic. Les Nerds du Mal—and about as deep (if not nearly as involving) as a TV movie.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 1992

ISBN: 1400031702

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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