A moving, compassionate, and poignant tribute to the enduring bonds of family amid disease, this account should be a...

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DISEASE

A devastating medical diagnosis redirects the future of a loving gay family.

When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is officially diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the news is crippling not only for him, but also for his husband, Ethan, a high school teacher, and their 5-year-old daughter, Amy. Prolific Swedish author Hirschi’s (Jonathan Trilogy, 2016, etc.) emotional tale opens with Ethan's presenting MacIntyre’s life through the journalist’s notes. Ethan—now a widower with a teenage daughter—continues to mourn the loss yet offers MacIntyre’s diary in hopes that it will illuminate the heartbreak of the disease that robbed him of his livelihood, his perception of the world around him, and ultimately his home life. MacIntyre’s history plays out within a narrative that is told through epistolary chapters weaving in his personal chronicle of gay fatherhood, objections to his family unit being considered “different” by his magazine editor, his married life with Ethan, and cherished and bittersweet childhood memories. He also writes from the internal vantage point of a frustrated man struggling with an increasingly faulty memory, the internalized terror of paranoia, the allure of suicide, and the solemn acceptance of living “with a death sentence.” As his family genetics predestined MacIntyre to acquire the debilitating disease, he writes of his mother’s plight with dementia-induced paranoia. Hirschi expands the focus and perspective of his character’s ordeal with the inclusion of Ethan’s own first-person narrative recounted both as MacIntyre’s health declined and in contemporary hindsight as a widower, years after his husband’s shocking death. Through his words, readers become acquainted with Ethan as a doting husband, the evolution of their relationship from first impressions to a cozy wedding ceremony in Italy, Amy’s birth, and MacIntyre’s crushing diagnosis and mental decline. An immensely thoughtful writer, Hirschi also allows his characters to ruminate over situations they have little control over, such as MacIntyre’s father’s remarriage and concerns over what kind of father Ethan’s new partner would be to Amy. Themes of longing, helplessness, and enduring love further inform this affecting tale, whose multiple narratives coalesce beautifully as they chronologically and touchingly document the incremental decline of a loving father and how a family must carry on despite its anguish.

A moving, compassionate, and poignant tribute to the enduring bonds of family amid disease, this account should be a must-read for anyone in the throes of an ordeal involving Alzheimer’s disease.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78645-161-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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