As much a love song sung to Boston as a conventional novel, and a welcome debut.

GIRLS I KNOW

Affecting novel of love, coming-of-age and theistic ontology.

Walt Steadman, the protagonist of Trevor’s (English/Univ. of Michigan; The Thin Tear in the Fabric of Space, 2005) sometimes picaresque tale, refuses to grow up. He’s the super of a Boston condo simply in order to get free rent, though he doesn’t really know how to fix anything; he’s obsessed with poetry but can’t get a handle on the dissertation he’s supposed to be writing at Harvard; he has two pairs of shoes, one of which he doesn’t wear, and a single pair of grown-up pants. Walt spends his mornings at a little diner so far away from home that it takes him a couple of transfers to get there; he’s studying the generous form of its sole waitress, Flora Martinez. When a bright young trust-funder philosophy major moves into the building, Walt takes a rare break from the cafe to help her with a project interviewing women about meaning in their lives, “[s]omething Aquinas might have written if he had been a Women’s Studies major.” When tragedy strikes, as it must to even so resolutely unkempt and adolescent a life as Walt’s, he is forced to grow up—some, anyway. That tragedy is skillfully worked into the narrative, both unexpected and inevitable; suffice it to say that every one of Walt’s assumptions is overturned, just as Aquinas might have wanted. In its more whimsical moments, Trevor’s book is reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys and Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, and if Trevor isn’t quite in their league, he has a solid sense of storytelling and the mot juste—and his characters are likable and believable as well.

As much a love song sung to Boston as a conventional novel, and a welcome debut.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9831505-3-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: SixOneSeven Books

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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