Those who pass time with the Señor will find this a luxuriant, splendid and spirited conception.

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE

Those (guessably not the general reader) who do not find the labyrinthine configurations of Señor Garcia-Marquez's mighty myth impregnable, and at times interminable, will be rewarded by this story of one hundred years and six generations in the peaceful, primal and ageless world of Macondo.

This is where his earlier No One Writes to the Colonel and Other Stories (1968) took place and it also features the same Buendia clan and its Colonel, a figure of dauntless energy and pride and stamina who carries on 32 small wars and fathers 17 sons by 17 wives. The Buendias are, for more direct purposes of identification, deliberately inseparable by name (and impulse—incest abounds) in spite of the helpful family tree frontispiece. At a rough count there are four Arcadios from the sire Jose Arcadio and six Aurelianos, including a pair of twins. Perhaps it does not matter since they all share to a degree the stubborn simplicity and outsized contours of comic folk characters. But if Senor Garcia-Marquez' book is fable, it is also satire with some of the fanciful giantism of earlier proponents (cf. the sections on war or government and the finally perceived "emptiness' of the former). For a time the Buendias remain untouched in their innocent world and are stunningly surprised by the artifacts of civilization which reach them—ice or false teeth. And even though they are afraid of a horrible precedent (a child born with a pig's tail) they pursue their closely inbred ways. But the incursions from elsewhere and above persist: there's the early plague of insomnia to the later four year, eleven month, two day rain. In the beginning so full of life, the Buendias give way to death and dispersion, and the last scenes of great-great-great-grandmother Ursula, living in the somnolent margins of memory, have great pathos. "Time passes. That's how it goes, but not so much" is a byword of the Buendias.

Those who pass time with the Señor will find this a luxuriant, splendid and spirited conception.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 1969

ISBN: 006112009X

Page Count: 417

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

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THE TESTAMENTS

Atwood goes back to Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), consistently regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century literature, has gained new attention in recent years with the success of the Hulu series as well as fresh appreciation from readers who feel like this story has new relevance in America’s current political climate. Atwood herself has spoken about how news headlines have made her dystopian fiction seem eerily plausible, and it’s not difficult to imagine her wanting to revisit Gilead as the TV show has sped past where her narrative ended. Like the novel that preceded it, this sequel is presented as found documents—first-person accounts of life inside a misogynistic theocracy from three informants. There is Agnes Jemima, a girl who rejects the marriage her family arranges for her but still has faith in God and Gilead. There’s Daisy, who learns on her 16th birthday that her whole life has been a lie. And there's Aunt Lydia, the woman responsible for turning women into Handmaids. This approach gives readers insight into different aspects of life inside and outside Gilead, but it also leads to a book that sometimes feels overstuffed. The Handmaid’s Tale combined exquisite lyricism with a powerful sense of urgency, as if a thoughtful, perceptive woman was racing against time to give witness to her experience. That narrator hinted at more than she said; Atwood seemed to trust readers to fill in the gaps. This dynamic created an atmosphere of intimacy. However curious we might be about Gilead and the resistance operating outside that country, what we learn here is that what Atwood left unsaid in the first novel generated more horror and outrage than explicit detail can. And the more we get to know Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia, the less convincing they become. It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54378-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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