Sometimes farcical, largely sincere—and ultimately trivial.

THE NANNY DIARIES

Rich parents, neglected brats, an overworked caregiver.

First-novelists and former nannies McLaughlin and Kraus get the details right: in acid asides, they limn the décor, trendy therapies, and the pretensions of social-climbing Manhattanites. It’s the woebegone children who often suffer, according to the authors’ young heroine (her name: Nanny), a child-development major at NYU. Mrs. X, a perfectly groomed Park Avenue princess, hires Nanny to care for four-year-old Grayer, and the girl does her best to comply with a long list of rules. The boy is rarely permitted to play inside the luxurious apartment, eat anything made with refined flour, and so forth. Mrs. X is too busy with committee work and salon treatments (and keeping an eye on her philandering husband) to do much mothering. Though Grayer is a holy terror, Nanny has a way with kids—and a family of her own to give advice when the tot falls ill. Racking cough? High fever? When Mrs. X is away at a spa and has left orders that she’s not to be disturbed for any reason, Nanny’s mother diagnoses croup. But “tragedy” strikes again: Nanny is hoping for a lavish Christmas present but all she gets is earmuffs. When she isn’t microwaving tofu snacks or teaching Grayer the intricacies of the Hokey Pokey, Nanny indulges in daydreams about the Harvard hottie she’s been flirting with in the elevator—and participates in obligatory gripe-and-gossip fests with her girlfriends. Should she tell Mrs. X about the black thong panties that Mr. X’s bitchy mistress left behind? And how about going with them to Nantucket? There’s nothing to buy there except candles and nautical trinkets, and her employers are sure to be at each other’s throats. When Nanny quits, she tells off Grayer’s indifferent parents at last, having discovered they they’ve been spying on her through a nannycam concealed in a stuffed bear.

Sometimes farcical, largely sincere—and ultimately trivial.

Pub Date: March 18, 2002

ISBN: 0-312-27858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more