A cutting look at the pains of fame.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

READ REVIEW

STATUS QUO

Author and artist Mosquera (Sleeper’s Run, 2011) offers a witty black comedy featuring a struggling writer who learns firsthand about life in the spotlight.

“Creativity is a heavy burden,” remarks a heavy-drinking barfly in Mosquera’s crisp, character-driven novel. Though a well-worn theme, it’s artfully embraced by Lemat, a crestfallen, late-30-something unpublished author haplessly trudging through life exasperated by a thankless print design job. He lives in a dingy neighborhood with the hopes of one day becoming a successful writer. After his botched suicide attempt, a bitter farewell to an old girlfriend and his being laid off at work, Lemat’s catastrophic hopelessness manifests itself in a rash decision to write “something commercial and shocking,” spurred on by Guy, a ruthless talent agent whose mantra is “nothing sells better than outrage.” Much to the chagrin of his best friend, Dep, Lemat settles on a provocative, controversial plotline and hyperproductively bangs out the manuscript, which Guy insists should be self-published. Though his book, Killing Jesus, receives the expected backlash from affronted religious groups, the fervor only intensifies the book’s media exposure; due to the notoriety, Lemat commands a six-figure publishing deal. However, there are drawbacks to his newfound star status on the best-seller list, on the talk show circuit and in Hollywood: His relationships with childhood friends and sexy tattoo artist “Ink” sputter, and his sanity shifts on the heels of a follow-up novel. Has Lemat completely sold out or just positioned himself to gain fame, notoriety and wealth by incrementally finessing the publishing market? Mosquera, who keenly projects the dynamics of the headstrong writer, presents Lemat with pitch-perfect characterization as a well-intentioned, motivated novelist in search of that ever elusive book deal. Charting the calamity that ensues when prideful innovation meets desperation, this cleverly imagined novel explores the nature of the creative process, the complexity of consequences and the desperate lengths to which determined people will go.

A cutting look at the pains of fame.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0991660100

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Oddity Media

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

more