ISLANDS IN THE STREAM

As seems increasingly apparent to most of us, Ernest Hemingway was richly endowed, but he spent his genius long before he died. Across the River and Into the Trees was an embarrassment while he lived, and now, with Islands in the Stream, his posthumously published novel, we have a sad bequest indeed. His wounded giants, floored by fate or nada, love or war, once had his celebrated "grace under pressure," symbols of the lost generation, participants in pastoral myths smeared with the blood of the hunt or of battle, yet sophisticates, drinking and wenching, determined to be true, in a world of deceit and wretched idealism, to "the real thing, the sequence of motion and fact which made the emotion." it was a heady creed, engendered by history, nourished on character and circumstance, but it could not last. As Hemingway grew older, his experiences narrowing, his fame widening, image-making set in with insidious allure: he began to drift, floating along through echoes of past triumphs, the later works, even The old Man and the Sea or A Moveable Feast, seeming more and more the sum of his fantasies about himself. Thomas Hudson is the middle-aged hero of Islands, painter and expatriate, resident of Bimini and Cuba, shadowy survivor of affairs which turn "rotten" or of gorgeous memories, who kisses "hard and well." He has his code and his comrades, "the brave and the good," and loses his three sons (the two youngest in a gratuitous car crash, the oldest, an R.A.F. pilot, during the Second World War). Alone and stoic and inconsolable, he courts death heading a patrol boat scouring the Caribbean for "Krauts," feeling at last the engines coming "through the deck and into him," his friend Willie saying, "Oh shit, you never understand anybody that loves you." Hudson has a period flavor, a whiff of the museum, as does, with its meandering, mannered style, the book as a whole. There are moments of lyric concision, snatches of faultless description, a breathtakingly accurate re-enactment of a fisherman's ordeal, the old greatness glimmering now and again, all the more piercing, perhaps, when surrounded by so much that's stale and worn.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 1970

ISBN: 0684837870

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1970

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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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

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