Berg wastes her considerable writing talent on a contrived, familiar story, and a likable but implausible protagonist....

READ REVIEW

NEVER CHANGE

Another bedside drama from prolific bestseller Berg (Open House, 2000, etc.), again featuring her preferred plotline of a woman in emotional distress finding herself against all odds.

At 51, visiting nurse Myra Lipinsky has been lonely for as far back as she can remember. “I come into the evening like I’m coming onto a stretch of bad road. Tighten my hands on the wheel. Sit up straight. Wait for it to be over.” A kindhearted softy, Myra takes a personal interest in all her patients. Among this colorful if standard lot are Rose Banovitz, a forgetful old woman who wears her slip on the outside; Fitz Walters, a blind patron of strip clubs; Grace, a teenaged mother terrified of mishandling her newborn; and DeWitt Washington, a black drug dealer with a gunshot wound who’s nonetheless so charming that anyone would want him for a neighbor and friend. Into this picture come Chip Reardon, the high-school football hero Myra adored from afar, and Diann Briedenbach, his equally popular girlfriend, who used to call upon Myra for consolation when she was feeling insecure. Chip has come home to die from a brain tumor, and Myra has been assigned to his case. He’s happy to see her; she’s delirious with joy to be near him, despite 30 years and the tumor. She even invites Diann to stay at her house, re-creating their ménage à trois. But this time, with Diann’s blessing, Myra wins Chip: only she is able to bear his degeneration. In fact, she is so much in love that when Chip makes the decision to end his life, Myra not only agrees to stay with him but secretly plans to commit suicide as well, although she ultimately grants herself a reprieve.

Berg wastes her considerable writing talent on a contrived, familiar story, and a likable but implausible protagonist. Still, who can argue with success?

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7434-1132-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE CITY WE BECAME

This extremely urban fantasy, a love/hate song to and rallying cry for the author’s home of New York, expands her story “The City, Born Great” (from How Long ’Til Black Future Month, 2018).

When a great city reaches the point when it's ready to come to life, it chooses a human avatar, who guides the city through its birthing and contends with an extradimensional Enemy who seeks to strike at this vulnerable moment. Now, it is New York City’s time to be born, but its avatar is too weakened by the battle to complete the process. So each of the individual boroughs instantiates its own avatar to continue the fight. Manhattan is a multiracial grad student new to the city with a secret violent past that he can no longer quite remember; Brooklyn is an African American rap star–turned–lawyer and city councilwoman; Queens is an Indian math whiz here on a visa; the Bronx is a tough Lenape woman who runs a nonprofit art center; and Staten Island is a frightened and insular Irish American woman who wants nothing to do with the other four. Can these boroughs successfully awaken and heal their primary avatar and repel the invading white tentacles of the Enemy? The novel is a bold calling out of the racial tensions dividing not only New York City, but the U.S. as a whole; it underscores that people of color are an integral part of the city’s tapestry even if some white people prefer to treat them as interlopers. It's no accident that the only white avatar is the racist woman representing Staten Island, nor that the Enemy appears as a Woman in White who employs the forces of racism and gentrification in her invasion; her true self is openly inspired by the tropes of the xenophobic author H.P. Lovecraft. Although the story is a fantasy, many aspects of the plot draw on contemporary incidents. In the real world, white people don’t need a nudge from an eldritch abomination to call down a violent police reaction on people of color innocently conducting their daily lives, and just as in the book, third parties are fraudulently transferring property deeds from African American homeowners in Brooklyn, and gentrification forces out the people who made the neighborhood attractive in the first place. In the face of these behaviors, whataboutism, #BothSides, and #NotAllWhitePeople are feeble arguments.

Fierce, poetic, uncompromising.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-50984-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more