THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA

A long short story and worth the money in quality of the old Hemingway of Men Without Women days — though in quantity it can't bulk to more than a scant 150 pages. A unique fishing story — as old man Santiago determines to try his luck in the Gulf waters off Cuba for the eighty fifth day. Surely his luck will change, he assures his faithful young friend whose parents wouldn't let him fish any more in such an ill-fated boat. So the boy goes along in imagination with the old man, pretending that there is enough food in the shanty- and supplementing the lacks from his own table; pretending that bait could be found- and bringing him sardines; planning for getting some warmer clothes for him and lugging water from the village pump; talking gaily of the great "DiMag" and of the game the Yankees are sure to win. And then the old man goes out — beyond the other fishing boats — and drops his lines in the way he has always done, and baits the hooks so that his hoped for great fish could smell and taste. The miracle happens — and the fish, a giant marlin, is bigger than any fish dreamed of. And the old man is alone....The story of that battle, that carried him out to sea and lasted through two days and two nights, is one of the miniature modern classics of such writing. And the story of the sailing back to port, as little by little the scavengers of the sea stripped what was to have been his livelihood for months to come, down to the skeleton, is grim and heartbreaking. A miracle tale, told with such passionate belief that the reader, too, believes. There's adventure here and Hemingway's old gift for merging drama and tenderness gives it a rare charm.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 1952

ISBN: 0684801221

Page Count: 132

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1952

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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