LOST WOMEN, BANISHED SOULS

A first collection of 13 stories, all from a woman's point of view, all featuring domestic themes. In the title piece, a sorrowful woman recollects the lives of her female friends from childhood to maturity; each of the vignettes is sharply realized but inconclusive. Cohen's subtle ``Fabric'' concerns a middle-aged woman's last desperate attempt to hold onto her husband; the fabric of her life is unraveling, leaving her both poor and alone. In the most winning, and hopeful, of these efforts, ``Maps,'' a woman who is dating a man from a family of unmarried brothers marvels at how the men never talk of anything personal, but merely of highways and routes. Finally, she pointedly questions one of them, asking whether he has a girlfriend. He says he does, and proceeds to describe the route to her house in Ohio. In ``Guests,'' an abusive husband hauls his wife, Amber, off to a New York talk show on which couples discuss their sexual problems—making for a nice premise, except that Cohen opts for such a modest, stylized denouement that it's hard to care about Amber, a mere victim who learns nothing from her adventure. Women like Amber appear in several of these stories, and the better-educated, middle-class, politically correct women who comprise most of Cohen's narrators have a curious, vexed relationship with them. In ``Cousin Rina's Return,'' for instance, a woman in labor has a vision of her beautiful dead cousin, a hillbilly, and the experience seems to offer a curious kind of solace. Similarly, in ``From an Eyelash,'' a woman grieving for her dead child recalls her roommate in the maternity ward: Mavis, a woman who knew precisely who she was. But even this most interesting aspect of Cohen's collection—the contrast between a sophisticated woman and her blue-collar alter ego—is less than it might be. Cohen has talent—her work has appeared in publications like American Fiction and Literary Review—but she's still searching for structure and shape.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8262-1073-2

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Univ. of Missouri

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

more