WILDERNESS

Native American expert Hausman and science-fiction maestro Zelazny team up to deliver a heart-pounding pair of interlocking yarns—fictionalized tributes to the fortitude, skill, and luck of two early mountain men, John Colter and Hugh Glass. Colter, trapped by a horde of Blackfoot braves in the Yellowstone region in 1808, is challenged by them to a footrace to the death; Glass, severely mauled by a bear in 1823 while hunting, is left for dead by his sidekick Jamie after a prolonged death- watch proves inconclusive. Thus the adventures begin, with Colter fleeing with no shoes from the Blackfeet while Glass comes to his senses and begins to crawl, on a broken leg and battered body, to civilization a hundred miles away. Colter evades recapture by feigning insanity, then plunges into a river logjam, where he sucks air from a knothole until searching Indians upset the balance of the jam, after which he escapes unseen into a tree. Glass proceeds inch by painful inch, starving and thirsting as he scrapes over barren terrain, always willing himself forward. Colter hides in a beaver lodge, then lures his pursuers into the nightmarish world of Yellowstone's thermal pools and vents that he knows well. He dodges arrows and deals with survivors of those foolhardy enough to enter his domain, then takes a last giant leap to freedom. Glass, meanwhile, regains the use of his leg and with the aid of a homemade crutch hobbles to safety, only to return swiftly to the mountains in search of the comrade who deserted him. Manly, masterly feats described in a breathless manner certain to appeal to hunters, trappers, and would-be adventurers in the wild—but mindlessly tedious for everyone else.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-85654-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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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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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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