PASSING REMARKS

Intimations of immortality as a 50-year-old Australian woman in love with a much younger woman are lightened by stylish writing and deft comedic touchesin award-winning Hodgman’s first US appearance. Rosemary, an academic with a taste for the finer things, has fashioned an agreeable, well-ordered life for herself in Sydney. Even her romantic liaisons are generally more pleasant, if fleeting, than not. Until, that is, she meets Billie, a 27-year-old biker with spiked hair and an equally spiky personality. Rosemary has always been the one to end a relationship, but this time she finds herself deeply infatuated and unwilling to let go. It’s Billie who says that she needs time to think, leaving Rosemary alone as she sets off to visit her hippie mum up the coast, and then other friends farther north. Rosemary is not only heartbroken but suddenly aware that she’s getting old. Her hair’s turning gray; she’s fretting more about life-threatening disease; and a friend’s gift of a book about menopause only serves to deepen her dark mood further. Still missing Billie, she heads to her mountain cottage for a summer vacation. Daphne, an eccentric colleague, shares the place while researching the life and achievements of her mad writer-mother. The vacation’s events include Daphne’s deciding that the best way to present those achievements is to have scenes from her mother’s life tattooed on her body; a serial murderer’s stealing Rosemary’s car, in which Rosemary has just stored marijuana harvested from her garden; and Rosemary’s unwittingly starring in a lesbian porno movie. Meanwhile, Billie, who nearly drowns while surfing with friends, knows by summer’s end what she’s going to do next and heads resolutely back to Sydney. And Rosemary, home in Sydney too, as she walks alone on the beach, expecting at best a moonlit night, is surprised by a happy ending. A postmodern tale that crackles with intelligence and wit.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-345-41773-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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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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