A well-executed rumination on ancient and familiar characters.


Three Voices Monologue


Campalani imagines the inner monologues of Jesus Christ in this short prose collection.

Campalani’s Jesus desires only love from an early age, knowing, as he does, what his future has in store for him. As a child, he asks Mary whether he can sleep in her bed, where he can feel safe and warm; “No,” she replies, “you must get used to loneliness. You’ll die alone.” Though the title refers to three voices, the narrators of all three sections are Jesus Christ at different ages. “Jesus” covers his early years, with vignettes describing his parents, his teachers, and his apprehension about his destiny. “Christós” covers the major events of his ministry, including his baptism, his time in the desert, and the Last Supper. The brief “Jhavè” limns his death on the cross, which involves him imagining a mirror that reveals his own difficult identity. Intro and outro sections—“First Letter” and “Farewell Letter”—bookend the work, which totals 48 pages. Campalani’s treatment of her subject matter is both subdued and earnest. She doesn’t go for irony or revisionism, but neither does she rob her subject of relatable human emotion. The result is a work that approaches the tragedy and affection that its source text must have originally possessed before it became dulled by centuries of reiteration. While Campalani’s language (or perhaps it is Sage’s translation from the Italian) sometimes veers into the abstract or clichéd (“This is my baptism of fire….You will join the revolution”), there are many small, quiet moments that show Christ as an individual. In one early scene, the child Jesus comforts his widowed mother who, after being rejected by a man at a wedding, realizes she can no longer be a sexual being: “She put a hand on my head to caress my hair. In that moment, my mum died as a woman, and she became the Mother: the earth, the moon, humidity, the night breeze, its thickness everywhere, the soil, the womb, honey, milk, pomegranate trees.” They feel real, and it is startling.

A well-executed rumination on ancient and familiar characters.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5191-8833-5

Page Count: 54

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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