A breezy and often eccentric collection of fiction and nonfiction.

THE ADVENTURES OF HALCOMBE NORILSK AND OTHER GRIPPING TALES

Halcombe (Ser un Tusitala, 2016) delivers an absurd novella about a fame-seeking traveler along with several essays on a wide range of topics.

In this collection’s opening story, a fictional character named Halcombe Norilsk, originally from Russia, decides “to become famous traveling the world.” How would he obtain this fame? He has a plethora of schemes, each less successful than the last, including attempting to write for the British newspaper the Guardian and trying to be a model. Wherever shall such a hapless character wind up? After Norilsk’s zany adventure ends, the reader is met with a series of diverse, personal essays by the author, written in a more earnest, yet still often playful, tone. Their subjects range from tips on sleeping (such as “do not enter into your bedroom until the time you go to sleep”) to a discussion of the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai (spelled “Qwai” here). There’s also a list of the 30 best songs by Jack White of The White Stripes and background information on a script for a short film that the author wrote for a screenwriting course. However, the author’s grammar is sometimes less than perfect, as when describing a punk-rock concert: “Punk-monger of Evaristo was positive as always, yet who did really triumph rendering a paramount punk performance it was MKB.” That said, Halcombe’s opinions are still coherent throughout. The author clearly has an affection for his subjects that shines through in each piece, such as one about the history of the Academy Awards. The essays that analyze aspects of American culture are the most intriguing, as the author is not from the United States, nor is he a native English speaker. As a result, his essays on the movies of Quentin Tarantino and the life of Jimi Hendrix have an unusual perspective, shedding new light on cultural items that readers may think they already know well.

A breezy and often eccentric collection of fiction and nonfiction.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-5343-9

Page Count: 180

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2017

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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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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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