Intriguing journeys through ambiguous states of being.



These short stories, poems, and a novella explore surreal landscapes of emotions and relationships.

The first four parts of this collection each contain a short story followed by three related poems. The final section features a novella and a single poem. A sense of surrealism and uncertain identity underlies these pieces, as in the opening tale, “The Antonym of Flower is Wind,” which begins with a dreamlike image: “The swan that sleeps on people’s bellybuttons.” It’s offered by a young woman called Lorelei, who fascinates the narrator, but he eventually realizes that “something was leaving” inside her, going somewhere he can’t follow. Over the years, some things remind him of Lorelei: the harmonica, fireflies. In the narrator’s mailbox is a letter from Lorelei telling him: “You’re over there, over in the real world. I’m not there….You’d never find me. He remembers her saying she can’t ever be human, and “in some ways, you’re just like me.” The accompanying poems use associated imagery; in “No Longer Human,” for example, “the fireflies float / then no longer glow / … / So you, too, / so warm and loving, may no longer stay.” In another story, “A Silent Anemone,” a man claims to be from Venus, and the narrator (who pretends to be deaf but isn’t) can’t help believing him. In other tales, characters transform themselves, confront death and evanescence, and look for the real and unreal within the mundane. In his book, Stone (I’m a Duck With Alligator Fingers, 2018) writes in a captivating magical realist vein. His images are dreamy, too, and often melancholic: A girl who tries to sail her ship to the moon discovers that “even in the myth, the moon failed.” Romance, or at least the promise of it, underlies many of these stories, with the mysterious embodied by an attractive young woman. A dream girl isn’t the freshest trope, but it’s complicated by an aura of unease or alienation. At times, the author overrelies on cultural touchstones, especially songs, to establish taste and coolness credentials (including “Another World” by Kinoko Teikoku; “The Dandelion Girl” by Robert F. Young; and Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory). 

Intriguing journeys through ambiguous states of being.

Pub Date: April 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-49758-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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