Compelling, if endlessly padded.

DAUGHTER MINE

San Francisco’s golden-ager Beat philosopher/novelist/essayist (She Took My Arm As If She Loved Me, 1997, etc.) returns, as full of talk as ever.

Aging bachelor Dan Shaper translates Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese for non-English–speaking folks up before the city courts. His empty love-life, meanwhile, bears a faded For Rent sign. Then one day a phone call comes from 19-year-old Amanda Torres, daughter of Margaret Torres, a lapsed painter Dan hasn’t seen in 20 years. Amanda says she’s his daughter and would like to meet him. When she comes to his office, he sees at once that she speaks the truth, but she’s also a demanding pill, cutting him no slack at all for not knowing he was her father. What’s more, she wants a car and money from him in recompense for his unwitting but crass stupidity in ignoring her all these years. She’s had it tough with Margaret, after all. Come and say hello to mother. So off he goes to reunite with Margaret, who is even worse news than Amanda and cuts him even less slack, simply because he’s a man. Then ersatz Romany Gypsy Gyro Brown wants Dan to translate for Gyro’s daughter, the young, robust, dark-eyed Shari, a trained and serious shoplifter now facing criminal charges. Gyro, who runs the Yerba Buena Foundation (a high-grade whorehouse Shari helps manage), might even hire Dan for some other alternate activities. Well, more money would help our blameless hero provide for his new family. Enter the huge, gleaming, fearsomely gentle black giant D’Wayne, the whorehouse’s bouncer and Amanda’s lover, whom Shaper finds deeply inappropriate as future father of his grandchildren. What happens when life happens and you’re suddenly stuck with someone? A big Wakeup Call blasts you, as Gold knows, and you’re never the same again.

Compelling, if endlessly padded.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-26306-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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