by Frank Marcopolos ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 9, 2014
An uneven but frequently effective collection of stories about people seeking to understand themselves and their...
A collection of short stories and essays that lean heavily toward the postmodern.
Marcopolos (Almost Home, 2013, etc.) here offers 10 short stories, followed by two essays on the nature and history of the subgenre of postmodern literary fiction. Readers leery of postmodernism may want to read these essays first, in order to get the author’s perspective on the type of fiction he considers his stories to be. In general, readers approaching postmodern stories can expect less formal structure and more rhetorical game-playing than what they might get in the works of writers such as John Updike or John Cheever. Certainly, Marcopolos delivers on both those counts, as his stories are filled with narrative playfulness and, sometimes, conceptual strangeness. They offer a fairly wide variety of plots, although a common strand of personality investigation runs through most of them: “What drives you?” one character asks in the first story, “Tock,” and variations of that question appear in most of the following tales. As in any such collection, some entries are stronger than others. One standout is “Valhalla House,” in which Enzo, a college baseball player, is weakened by a recent elbow surgery; he can “feel the impact of losing everything,” including the loyalty of “all the people who loved him fifty pounds and a 95-mile-an-hour fastball ago.” Here, Marcopolos really captures the brutal realities of chancing everything on the possibility of a pro career. “Eroticoffica” is another strong entry, in which two young women take a break from their job writing pornographic e-books (“each cranking out many titles of hot-selling erotica each year”) in order to swap complaints and dreams; they go to an eccentric coffee shop, where their laughter inadvertently prompts another patron to go home and shoot himself. Despite the author’s essays on postmodernism, the best stories in this collection are the most traditional ones. There’s plenty here that Updike and Cheever fans will like, even if they’ve never given postmodernism a second glance.An uneven but frequently effective collection of stories about people seeking to understand themselves and their predicaments.
Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014
Page Count: 112
Publisher: Kykeon Media
Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2015
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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