YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE

Herman Wouk has the rare gift of the natural story teller. Youngblood Hawke carries one in tumultuous crisis after crisis through its 900 odd pages. That one resists the flood is of secondary importance. But that one finds it hard to accept the central character is a defect that this reader cannot ignore. Hawke is a rough-hewn Kentucky egocentric, convinced that he has written a masterpiece which is only the beginning; that he will cut a wide swathe across the whole of literary America. And this he does, against almost insuperable odds. He is incredibly naive in many directions:- the victim of a rich older woman's passion, a credulous- but never venal- fool in the clutches of a smiling small-time operator, an idiot when it comes to tax matters, a man ridden by his emotions, unable- it seems- to achieve happiness with the one right woman for him, and scarred through life by his mother's lust for money. He makes unbelievable fortunes- books, movies, plays, and so on; and loses them on a grand scale. And in the end, when security is within his grasp, he burns out his life on the altar of a sort of basic integrity. The scene shifts from New York to Kentucky coal mining country, to Hollywood, to Europe's playgrounds, even to Peru. And always the rewards of success elude our hero, and even his lust is sated and leaves him destroyed and unsatisfied. Certain odd style tricks (Hawke's lapses into phonetic Southern dialect patterns, for example) fail to provide the color required. Wouk is at his best in the story pace — in his minor characters — and at his most meretricious in the sordid behind the scenes pictures of the publishing world, the theatre world, and the world of operators. Slated for Book-of-the-Month, this is guaranteed to hit the jackpot. But it won't gain the identification stamp that made Marjorie Morningstar every Marjorie's story; nor the concentrated drama inherent in The Caine Mutiny.

Pub Date: May 18, 1962

ISBN: 0316955175

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1962

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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