THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS

A dense and often leaden novel by Argentinean writer Sabato (On Heroes and Tombs, 1981) that comes to life—and that only momentarily—in the last 40 or so pages. Ponderously cerebral, the story is essentially an examination of the increasing pervasiveness of evil. Set in Buenos Aires in the early 1970's at the height of the military dictatorship—when innocent young men were imprisoned, tortured and then ``disappeared'' without a trace—Sabato has more than enough material for this tale of a labyrinthine conspiracy of evil spreading through the city like an infection. The author himself is a character, not the author as a figure as in metafiction but as ``just another character, the same sort of character as all the rest, which however do come from the soul or spirit of anima of the author. The author would be a man maddened, somehow, and living with his own doubles, aspects of his own self.'' Accordingly, while S., the writer, follows a mysterious Dr. Schneider (who might be a former Nazi), is accused by a young idealist of selling out, and searches for a society of the blind rumored to be responsible for all that is wrong, a drunkard across town sees fiery dragons in the sky; a young man is tortured and killed for his beliefs; and, in the salons and bars alike, unease and despair are rife. These disparate parts abruptly all come together, and S. and Sabato find comfort in the notion of peace—``a melancholy restfulness that a child feels when he lays his head in his mother's lap and closes his eyes still filled with tears, after the terrors of a nightmare.'' Some interesting insights and searing accounts of torture, but these are so deeply mired in self-conscious intellectualism that their impact is soon lost. Heavy-going.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-345-36050-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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