An amusing yarn about a student whose love of literature takes him on a dangerous journey.


A Don Quixote fan at Yale University discovers a letter that speaks of hidden treasure in Spain in this thriller.

Michael Porter, a senior literature student at Yale, has become somewhat obsessed with Don Quixote. Michael pores through Cervantes’ novel in both Spanish and English and mopes around campus, often making conversation with his imaginary friend, Boomie. Michael’s girlfriend, Liz Mansfield, a wealthy student interested in finance, is hoping that after graduation Michael will join her and work at Merrill Lynch. As those jobs will be arranged by Liz’s dad, Michael is not overly excited about the prospect; nor is he looking forward to the couple’s trip to St. Thomas. Michael thinks that there are clues in Don Quixote to hidden riches and pretends to be a graduate student to look through some Cervantes documents at the library. He confides in Liz, but she tells him, “The reality is that we’re graduating in two months, and fiction has to take a backseat to life.” She insists, along with professor Colin Edwards, that fiction isn’t real and that the Man of La Mancha has not provided a treasure map. But in the depths of the Beinecke Library, Michael finds an unknown letter, stuck to the back of another, that purports to give the booty’s location. Lost in a literary fantasy, Michael skips the trip to St. Thomas and heads for Spain. Hot on his trail are Liz, the professor, and even Liz’s parents, and Michael soon realizes that he is not the only party in a desperate search for the loot. Halaban’s (The Vermeer Conspiracy, 2015, etc.) novel is a fun and lighthearted adventure that is definitely smart but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nestled in the comfortable halls of the English Department, Michael’s literary knowledge and his fantasies have become one, and the real-life peril appears in Spain from such eclectic villains as an old forger, knife-wielding monks, and descendants of the Aztecs. The third act, however, goes on for far too long and becomes too crowded with characters. But overall, this is an enjoyable story that offers Gothic elements and archaic intrigue in a search for buried secrets that may or may not exist.

An amusing yarn about a student whose love of literature takes him on a dangerous journey.

Pub Date: June 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62901-487-6

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Inkwater Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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

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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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