A heartbreaking and exquisite story about emotional violence.

VANISHING POINT

A novel traces a forlorn woman’s romantic and artistic journey.

Angela Dunnewald barely keeps it together as a lonely housewife in a wealthy New England suburb. Her daily interactions are typically limited to lunch with Lydia, the larger-than-life socialite who has taken an inexplicable liking to Angela, and brief exchanges with Ina, her stern housekeeper. Angela’s husband, Ross, is often absent and reliably self-absorbed and spiteful when he is home: “Once, when he’d broken a teacup...he’d blamed the table, saying it was too small.” Everything changes when a mysterious stranger starts lurking outside the house. Sensing a kindred spirit, Angela eventually invites him in. Daniel is an itinerant carpenter from a broken home: quiet, gentle, good, and everything Ross is not. Daniel starts visiting regularly, and Angela lives vicariously through imagining his life apart from her. She falls in love with him, enjoying “the sense he gives her that she’s not spinning alone through the dark.” The affair empowers her to think beyond the colorless existence she’s been leading. She enrolls in a local art class and renovates the garden shed, turning it into a studio where she finally feels some sense of purpose. She retreats from Ross and Lydia, but upon discovering that Daniel may be hiding more than just their affair, that relationship, too, threatens to unravel. The novel boasts some stunning turns of phrase bridging Angela’s thoughts and reality. In describing Daniel: “He’s some lean-flanked, fine-boned thing. A deer. Or a wolf. Her mind is caught up in entanglements, people and animals coupling in strange ways, swans, she sees swans, and satyrs.” No moment feels wasted under Legters’ (Connected Underneath, 2016) keen, observant eye. When Angela and Ross attend yet another expensive, stuffy dinner, an oversized menu is “the size of an airplane wing,” and fellow diners wear blank faces “like those huge sunflowers.” All the while, Angela’s frustration that she hasn’t made the most of her life and her path toward self-acceptance ring true in this painfully beautiful tale. Fans of Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road (1961) rejoice.

A heartbreaking and exquisite story about emotional violence.

Pub Date: May 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59021-647-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Lethe Press

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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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

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