JADE

Herein, an effort by Davis (The Princess and the Pauper, Silk Lady, etc.) to meld the crime and glitz fiction genres, using as glue a Kama Sutra of kinky sex, a sampan full of off- kilter characters, and an exotic backdrop—Hong Kong, ``a city on the edge, emotionally and geographically,'' approaching its l997 unification with mainland China. Hong Kong Police Superintendent Clement Leslie is unmarried, devoted to serving his Queen; he's a man who prefers old Fred Astaire movies to pornography, and is probably too sensitive for his job, which, as this book opens, includes surveying the remains of two white teen-agers who have been sexually abused and brutally murdered while making love in a park. The dead girl's mom, classy Maggie Evans, a designer of jade jewelry, blames herself for her daughter's slaying, since she herself is Hong Kong's most inexhaustible nymphomaniac. Meanwhile, to the city on the edge come: recent widow and song-writer Claire Black, easy prey of the British ``toyboy'' and hare-brained financial schemer James Bingham; Louise Felder, a tough-skinned, foul mouthed Hollywood agent who represents an Asian ex-porn star and who does her best to infuriate the Hong Kong Mafia; and Erica Thorn, beautiful bait in a trap set by a group of angry Philadelphia divorcÇes to catch a rich man and then suck him dry via Erica. And that's only a few of the people in this over spiced stew that wastes most of its time introducing readers to its characters' sex obsessions, leaving the murder plot to go bad before it ever ripens. When Leslie at last pulls the culprits out of his hat, they turn out to be the teen-age members of an Asian tap dance club! Davis hasn't managed to infuse her no-show plot with sense or suspense or to create characters worth caring for; in fact, the only thing there's no dearth of here is soft-core porn.

Pub Date: May 14, 1991

ISBN: 0-446-51584-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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