A light, funny account of a woman’s attempt to make it in New York.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

A woman takes the “fake it till you make it” approach to a new level after moving to New York City in this comic novel from Darling (I’ll Know Me When I Find Me, 2018). 

Thirty-five-year-old Jane Desmond has moved to New York, hoping to break into the publishing industry. Unfortunately, her mother, Linda, back home in Virginia, can’t stop badgering her for updates. Jane agrees to post one selfie a day to Facebook in order to assuage any maternal anxieties—and to show off her glamorous new lifestyle. The only problem? Her life isn’t actually that glamorous. She’s having trouble finding an apartment and a job, and her car window is quickly smashed within three hours of her arrival. But her mom doesn’t have to know that, right? As Jane begins selectively editing her selfies for the folks at home, she ends up presenting an increasingly rosy—and fictional—version of her life in the big city. Unfortunately, the lies told for her mother’s benefit begin to take their toll: “the pressure of constructing a happy story for her benefit drained me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Each day she responded to my posts, ‘Looks like you’re doing great!’ and I was, I was fine, but not in the way she thought I was.” Can Jane figure out a way to live honestly in New York without feeling like a total loser? Darling narrates Jane’s misadventures with empathy and irony in equal measure. Once Jane moves into an apartment above a fish market, her neighbor Tessa explains that cats love their fire escape: “They’re nice company but don’t pet them. I did once when I first moved in and the thing bit me, and then my hand got infected. So just smile and wave.” The novel is rather thin on plot, but the urban experiences are well told and should be enjoyable to anyone who has moved alone to a new city. Although Jane suffers a number of minor catastrophes, the book never gets so dark that it will put off readers looking for light fiction. This is Darling’s second novel about Jane, and while readers don’t need to be familiar with the first one to follow the plot of this book, they may end up looking forward to the next one.

A light, funny account of a woman’s attempt to make it in New York.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9997003-3-4

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Bricolage Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2019

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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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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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