MESSAGES

A spirited, lavishly detailed behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a newsroom.

Journalist Carr’s (A Journal of the Crazy Year, 2013, etc.) accomplished debut novel takes readers into the world of local newsroom politics, rendering that world in elaborate, Dickensian detail.

Here are the petty turf wars over stories and bylines, the venal and greedy ad-people willing to do anything to increase the station’s revenue, the brainless and bullying newsroom bosses whose screw-ups make life miserable for the hardworking writers and reporters. Here are the pompous news-readers enjoying their local celebrity and the real stories reporters have to fight to get told. Arrow Henley, an ace reporter at WDIK-TV’s Action News in Knoxville, Tenn., had been told by his station’s general manager to go get sensational footage of a young man threatening to commit suicide by throwing himself off a bridge. Remembering the assignment sends Henley on a drinking binge, but his dilemma—an old-fashioned, story-oriented newsroom being taken over by ratings-and-numbers-driven mindless media—is shared by all of Carr’s main characters, including Dexter Drimmel, a caustic newsman from WIMP in Little Rock, who’s tired of seeing his station run preprogrammed “content” (bought in two-hour blocks from a West Coast company) rather than actual local news reported by actual local reporters. Reporter Dan Price, whose copy gets rewritten by his overbearing bosses and who dreams of somehow fighting back, feels the same way. These workplace stories are rendered by Carr in such intricate detail and with such smooth skill that readers will easily gain a vivid sense of what it’s like to work in a local newsroom—the technical problems, the industry jargon, the multitude of quick decisions that need to be made every day. Against this backdrop, Carr weaves a theme of corruption that provides most of the book’s considerable comic energy and fast-paced dialogue.

A spirited, lavishly detailed behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a newsroom.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1493593613

Page Count: 496

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2014

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

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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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FIREFLY LANE

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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