TINTIN IN THE NEW WORLD

Like Tallien (1988), etc., Tuten's latest is conceptually interesting and quite the rage—a post-mod mix of high and low culture. But not all hip ideas translate into compelling fiction. Reminiscent of Jay Cantor's Krazy Kat, Tuten's ponderous fable reimagines the famous Belgian cartoon character, Tintin, in a grown-up world peopled with refugees from The Magic Mountain. Tuten thus fills in his comic-strip word balloons with dialogue from an old-fashioned novel of ideas. Once an ``incorruptible, a natural spirit, a blond elf,'' the stunted boy-man discovers himself in the greatest adventure of his life. In Peru, on Machu Picchu, Tintin, his faithful terrier, Snowy, and his sidekick, the salty sea- captain Haddock, encounter Clavdia Chauchat, Peeperkorn, and others from Mann's classic. In the New World, they must all reconceive their purposes in life. These rather inanimate talking heads debate the merits of revolution, the value of art, and the designs of power. Meanwhile, Tintin falls madly for Clavdia after a night of wild passion, a moment so fraught with meaning that it leads to an elaborate dream of their future together. But Tintin's vision of contentment at his retreat, Marlinspike, is dashed by the decadent Peeperkorn, who reveals Clavdia's history of madness and nymphomania. Tintin grows, his voice deepens, he broods. He pushes Peeperkorn off the mountain edge and embarks on his last great adventure. High on psychedelic mushrooms, he flashes on ``the Grand Spectacle of the New World'' and sees himself as the fulfillment of ancient prophecy. A beggar in Lima, a shaman in Brazil, Tintin finally submerges himself in the Amazon, at one with the primal forces. HergÇ meets Mann, and the result would be as delightfully silly as an Abbott and Costello movie if Tuten didn't take all this so seriously. But, alas, he does, and the reader must suffer through his arch prose, with its pretentiously elevated diction.

Pub Date: June 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-12314-7

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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.

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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