Rough around the edges but well worth a read.

THE SALT OF TRANQUILITY

A miner in hibernation on the moon wakes to discover that the world he knows has changed forever.

Tyler West grew up in a small town in the Midwest, with few prospects for excitement. So he was thrilled to be chosen for the moon miner training program. As a miner, he could look forward to nearly two years in hibernation while his capsule collected the precious “moonsalts,” followed by a triumphant return to Earth and a fat bank account. But when he wakes up from hibernation, his computer display tells him that about 9,000 years have passed. He returns to Moon Station Armstrong, the lunar settlement, only to find it abandoned, a dead body floating in the control center. The only clue he uncovers is a recording made by someone named Lemuel Peterson, the last man to visit the base. Lemuel’s recording describes the events since Tyler’s hibernation began: After Islamic extremists launched biological and nuclear attacks all over the world, biochemist and environmental leader William Harmony came forth with a plan to save the world. Predicting billions of deaths from starvation, he offered a pill that allowed people to survive on far less food—but it required them to eat only human flesh for the rest of their lives. Gery Sidney Cottam, the primary author, died before finishing the book, and his wife, Beth, completed his work. Their gripping tale is full of intriguing twists, although the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, and the writing can be amateurish at times. The moral of the story isn’t delivered with much grace, either; a gentler hand might have made it more palatable. Despite these issues, though, the wild plot is compelling enough to hook readers until the last page.

Rough around the edges but well worth a read.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477287088

Page Count: 352

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

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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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