FALLEN ANGEL OF THE HIGHWAY

A novella from debut author Hage about a trucker’s violent revenge.

As a young boy, Sean watched the truckers pass by his school bus stop and dreamed of the day he might join their ranks. But when life’s pressures intervened, he gave up his dream in order to help save the family farm. Despite his best efforts, the farm went the way of so many other small farms and was lost to big agribusiness. Sean is finally able to become a trucker, getting married and fathering two children along the way. Divorce, disrupted paternal relationships and the loss of a beloved dog due to the capricious rules of a security guard all contribute to Sean’s increasing bitterness. A second marriage to a childhood crush seems set to give him a new lease on life, but his anger begins to spiral out of control. Increased regulation and scrutiny after 9/11 feels targeted at honest truckers and further fuels his resentment. And when his simmering anger finally drives away his second wife, the emotional fallout leads to devastating consequences for himself and those around him. Sans subplots, pacing is swift in Hage’s novella, and plenty of plot twists will maintain reader interest. There are, however, a few underdeveloped threads (e.g., “Since the judge hated truck drivers, he chose to believe it”), and Hage’s interjection of commentary (“Questions would be asked, such as: ‘Was this a terrorist attack, or simply an individual that snapped and was bent on revenge?’ ”) could stand to go, too. Still, Sean’s transition from working-class Joe to violent killer is a fiery one. A fast-paced tale about what happens when a man snaps.

Pub Date: March 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1460232897

Page Count: 96

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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