An ornate, gruesome, and rigorously crafted Civil War novel.

The Veteran

From the The Castor Family Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Slaughter tells the story of a Civil War veteran’s attempts to silence his ghosts while working in the lumber camps of Michigan in this debut novel.

Will Castor serves in Battery D, 1st Regiment, Michigan Light Artillery, sending shells into the ranks of Confederate infantry whenever he’s ordered to do so. When his unit’s position is overrun at the Battle of Chickamauga, Will witnesses and commits ghastly horrors to survive the day. Separated from his army and incapacitated with a broken leg, he hooks up with a Confederate deserter who takes him home to Tennessee and shelters him. While there, Will develops strong feelings for the Rebel’s sister, Mollie. Back in Michigan after the war, he finds work at a lumber company in East Saginaw and attempts to lose himself in the hard life and colorful atmosphere of the camp. As a land looker (someone who evaluates standing timber), Will has the opportunity to traverse the Edenic forest, free of associations and memory. Even so, he struggles with the ghosts of his past, retreating ever deeper into the bottle and into the woods. Haunted by the traumas of the war, the wilds present Will with an unexpected opportunity for redemption—though it may prove to be an even greater battle than the one at Chickamauga. Slaughter is a fastidious writer, summoning the worlds of Civil War artillery and the 19th-century lumber industry in all their gritty details. A frame story about a Castor descendant searching for Will’s grave feels unnecessary and forced, but the scenes of war are replete with all the fire and death the reader expects from a Civil War novel: “Here and there the haze was ripped by long angry streaks of red from the mouths of the guns that set huge swirling eddies adrift in the dense smoke.” Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the story is its postwar period and its depiction of Will’s PTSD. The reader feels great empathy for this broken veteran, stumbling about in an era when the language for such aftereffects had not yet been established.

An ornate, gruesome, and rigorously crafted Civil War novel.

Pub Date: June 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-9439-9509-7

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Mission Point Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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