HORROR SHOW

Rock star Kihn's talented debut novel, a very entertaining revamping of Ed Wood, the film about Hollywood's worst filmmaker ever. Major episodes of Ed Wood get reworked here with wonderful zest. An alcoholic recluse living in a decaying old Hollywood manse, Woodley Landis, whose abysmal schlock features make Ed Wood's seem like Kurosawa, is offered $600 by young horror buff Clint Stockburn for an interview for Monster Magazine. Landis accepts, and Stockburn begins taping Landis's recollections of filming his masterpiece, Cadaver, a film that was set largely after hours in the L.A. morgue and featured real corpses wired to walk. Cadaver, which was shot faster (three days) than Wood's masterpiece, Plan Nine from Outer Space (a luxurious five days), featured aged junkie and horror actor Jonathon Luboff in the Bela Lugosi slot. All of Luboff's lines have a loving flair worthy of Lugosi, or rather Martin Landau, who played Lugosi in Ed Wood. Instead of wrestling with a rubber octopus, Luboff and a hidden assistant wrestle with a real corpse in the morgue, whose eyes when opened reveal (real!) crawling maggots. The corpse, though registered as John Doe (Luboff blushingly suggests starring him as ``Johnny Dead''), is that of the master Satanist priest Albert Beaumond, who had returned from Peru with two tuning forks— supposedly used to call up Satan—that he'd stolen from a tribe of Stone Age savages. Unfortunately, the tuning forks require a human sacrifice to work properly. Beaumond meets sexy TV horror hostess Devila (read Vampira) at a ghastly Halloween party Landis throws, and drunkenly shows her the tuning forks. After seeing their power, Devila steals them and induces Landis to film the actual emergence of the Devil, who has taken over the undead corpse of Beaumond in the L.A. morgue. Not to be missed by Ed Wood fans, or horror fans generally.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-86045-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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