A captivating postmodern murder story.

E.I.E.

A cerebral drifter makes sense out of the madness in his life in this debut novel.

Robert Robillard, a 23-year-old self-styled artist whose mind moves a mile a minute, is considering suicide but decides to just leave Los Angeles instead. He begins a metaphysical journey around the American Southwest, pondering such heady topics as life, death, morality, and existence while experimenting with a few trespasses against the laws of God and humanity. He gets caught stealing and is forced to murder his way out of the situation, only to be filled with intense remorse and fear over the deaths of the two people he’s killed: “I was now a murderer and it would forever weigh and sit and hang over who I was and who I was to be.” Robillard’s ruminations on the nature of freedom and expression—which were previously largely philosophical exercises—take on a new urgency as he seeks to escape punishment for his crimes and settle his affairs before fleeing to Montreal to live under a new identity. To do so, he’ll have to make peace with the person his actions have forced him to become—and escape the vengeance of the father of his victims. Robillard narrates the book in an ellipses-laden, Joycean stream-of-consciousness style that Hunter calls Chaos Riddle Prose: “Shoe to killer in Connecticut … with Wet Fingers Worth of Worthiness … palms to sheiks … forehead feigned the Fool! … Touch do not! … Orion the Ore my Marina the Music! … The Music of the Spheres!” It’s a bit hard to follow, as Robillard leaps from literary reference to pun to onomatopoeic description of something happening right in front of him. Hunter’s obvious debt to various modernists feels more than a bit mannered now that Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a hundred years old. That said, there is something inherently compelling about a book that forces the reader to experience it on its own terms, and this is one such work. Hunter has created a surreally inviting wasteland in which to stage this morality play.

A captivating postmodern murder story.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4783-5381-2

Page Count: 300

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2017

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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