Charming tale, sweet as pie, with a just-right touch of tartness from the bestselling Flagg (Standing in the Rainbow, 2003,...

A REDBIRD CHRISTMAS

One more Christmas, one more chance.

Diagnosed with terminal emphysema, Oswald T. Campbell leaves wintry Chicago for a friendly little town in Alabama recommended by his doctor. Lost River seems as good a place as any to spend his last Christmas on earth; and Oswald, a cheerful loser all his life, believes in going with the flow. Turns out that the people of Lost River are a colorful bunch: Roy Grimmit, the strapping owner of the grocery/bait/beer store, hand-feeds a rescued fledgling named Jack (the redbird of the title) and doesn’t care who thinks he’s a sissy. Many of the local women belong to the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots, which does good things on the sly, like fixing up unattached men. Betty Kitchen, former army nurse, coaxes Oswald’s life story out of him. Seems he was an orphan named for a can of soup—could there be anything sadder? Oswald is quite taken with the charms of Frances Cleverdon, who has a fabulous collection of gravy boats and a pink kitchen, too. Back to Jack, the redbird: it’s a favorite of Patsy, a crippled little girl abandoned by her worthless parents. She’ll be heartbroken when she finds out that Jack died, so the townsfolk arrange for a minor miracle. Will they get it? Yes—and snow for Christmas, too.

Charming tale, sweet as pie, with a just-right touch of tartness from the bestselling Flagg (Standing in the Rainbow, 2003, etc).

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2004

ISBN: 1-4000-6304-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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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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