One of a kind. Deserves a big splash and lots of readers.


An international art star becomes a dog walker after 25 harsh years in federal prison.

This funny, edgy, and winning novel introduces an extraordinary narrator who reveals her back story slowly and tantalizingly, so spoilers must be avoided here. Her name is Carleen Kepper, but it used to be Ester Rosenthal. It was changed by the woman who admitted her into the prison system to serve her life sentence because “They’ll kill you within a day and a half for crucifying their Lord.” For reasons that will be revealed, Carleen has been paroled and is living in a halfway house in New York City. She works as a dog walker and trainer, an occupation at which she is uniquely gifted. She is also trying to gain access to her 11-year-old daughter, a precocious girl who has changed her name from Pony to Batya Shulamite and is preparing for her bat mitzvah. How can she have a child that age if she was in prison since she was 18? Can’t tell you. What can be said is that Ester Rosenthal was an art prodigy who made the cover of the New York Times Magazine at the age of 12 and whose paintings sell for more than $100,000, and it is kleptomania and prankery that got way out of hand that led to her incarceration. Among many great things about this book, each of its many dogs practically leaps off the page. Carleen on black standard poodles: “They demand constant, unequivocal love and will leap into your lap as if they were toy versions of themselves and are insulted when ordered to get off. They learn their commands instantly, but not because they are particularly smart. They’re more like teenage boys who joined the army too soon and will do any discipline just to prove they can do it.” Swados (My Depression: A Picture Book, 2005, etc.), a respected playwright, died at 64 just after finishing this novel.

One of a kind. Deserves a big splash and lots of readers.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55861-921-0

Page Count: 392

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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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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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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