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DON QUIXOTE GOES TO YALE

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

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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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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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