TYCOON

Another dreary, sex-drenched saga in which Robbins (The Stallion, 1996, etc. etc.) does his roman Ö clef number on broadcasting. In 1931, young Harvard-educated Jack Lear defies father Erich, who wants him to join the family's Los Angelesbased scrap-metal firm; instead, Jack puts down roots in Boston, where he weds a blond deb named Kimberly and buys a local radio station. The precocious, upwardly mobile go-getter soon builds a small network that earns him the backing of megabuck investors, plus the favors of showbiz hopefuls and other men's wives. Although willing to preserve a crumbling marriage for his children's sake, Jack (whose career vaguely resembles that of William Paley) meets and falls for Anne, the widowed Countess of Weldon, while sitting out WW II in London as a brigadier general on Eisenhower's staff. Kinky Kim (who's been making S&M whoopee with banker Dodge Hallowell) grants him a divorce, and he's able to make the stylish Brit his own. With beauteous Anne beside him, Jack moves to Manhattan and expands his empire, taking advantage of the postwar era's favorable economic conditions to put the Lear name on a nationwide string of TV stations. The influential magnate's charmed life is not without a downside, however: He learns his kids by Kim are engaged in a committed incestuous relationship, then loses Anne to leukemia after two decades of wedded bliss. Meanwhile, the business prospers, and by the early '70s, a younger generation emerges to challenge Jack for control of the media colossus he's created. In an abrupt and anticlimactic windup, the founder loses a proxy fight, sells out to a conglomerate, and walks away with his third wife, a New Jersey congresswoman. Despite the author's customary surfeit of clinical sex scenes, this is a limp and linear take on cafe-society capitalism—one that ends not with a bang but a whimper.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-81068-9

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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