Mosher covers too much familiar territory to make this a really memorable debut, but it contains enough good things to whet...

THE LAST BUFFALO HUNTER

Predictable but often moving first novel about a boy's coming-of-age summer in Montana.

Kyle Richards has been in love with the Big Sky country for most of his 14 years. His father was born and grew up in Montana; Cole Richards, his grandfather, still lives there. From books, atlases, films, and every other source he can lay hands on, Kyle has fashioned a larger-than-life idea of the state that makes his own native New York seem drab and overdomesticated. Kyle yearns to go West, so as a birthday present his parents give him a bus ticket and permission to spend the summer with Grandfather Cole. It doesn't take long for reality to put a damper on romanticism. Kyle arrives late at night to find no one waiting to meet him in the bleak and deserted bus terminal. Tired and a bit scared, the boy is temporarily stranded. Grandfather Cole was supposed to be there, but he had other things on his mind—namely, booze and women. Kyle quickly learns this is standard operating procedure for his grandfather, who soon hauls him off to the Six Point Saloon to meet an array of unsettling types. Among them are Darla and Dell Fishtrapper, lively, hefty, morally untrammeled Sioux maidens, both entranced with Grandfather Cole. In the succeeding weeks, Kyle is shaken and sobered by a series of hard knocks: a near-drowning, a beating at the hands of a mean-spirited bully, and a violently hormonal response to a local beauty. Most of all, however, he experiences Cole Richards, last of the real Montana men, from whom he learns a variety of lessons. Some are beneficial, some are not; none are easy.

Mosher covers too much familiar territory to make this a really memorable debut, but it contains enough good things to whet the appetite for his next.

Pub Date: April 30, 2001

ISBN: 1-56792-146-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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A finely rendered showcase for a classic tale.

THE GOOD EARTH

Illustrator Bertozzi (Becoming Andy Warhol, 2016, etc.) adapts Buck’s (The Eternal Wonder, 2013, etc.) Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of a man’s fluctuating fortunes and existential crises in early-20th-century China.

For years, farmer Wang Lung has worked the soil, pulling forth bountiful harvests, and now the sale of his excess crops has funded a fateful purchase: a slave from the great house in town to be his wife. O-lan quickly proves invaluable: cooking fancy cakes like those she served to the local lord and lady, sewing clothes, and working the fields alongside her husband, stopping only to bear children. O-lan’s steady hand helps during high times, when Wang Lung purchases land from the great house, and during low, when famine drives the family south to a big city where they live as beggars and Wang Lung runs a rickshaw. On the streets, Wang Lung witnesses class tensions that boil over into a riot—during which O-lan manages to multiply their fortune. Once settled back on the land and having grown prosperous, the family faces the struggles of the nouveau riche: a son ashamed of their bumpkin roots, Wang Lung's discontent with his plebeian wife driving him to take a concubine, fears of good fortune being snatched away by jealous spirits (or family members). The half-dozen or so borderless panels per page propel the story along, flowing in brief scenes of survival, domesticity, society, and legacy. Bertozzi beautifully distills Buck’s text into poignant snippets, zeroing in on details such as the anguished clench of O-lan’s fingers as she bears the news that Wang Lung is pursuing another woman. The black-on-gray chiaroscuro lends the work an engraved look, perfectly capturing the story’s timeless subject matter while also underscoring the antiquity of the depicted world, where women are slaves. Even within this foreign worldview, Buck and Bertozzi convey rich moral complexity and universal concerns.

A finely rendered showcase for a classic tale.

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3276-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Hammond (stories: Breathe Something Nice, 1997, not reviewed) definitely goes for the baroque here. Overwrought and crammed...

MILK

Incest, suicide, and a dead baby—who could ask for anything more in a first novel?

Theodora Mapes writes copy for the kind of children’s catalogues that feature perfect velvet dresses and wooden toys. She’s not amused by the irony when she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant: any child of hers will have more than its share of psychological baggage. Her own mother, Marian, committed suicide when Theo was eight. Her cold, remote father denies it still, though he does admit his dead wife had a drinking problem. Theo can relate to that: she’s separated from husband Jackson, a phlegmatic midwesterner with an unquenchable thirst for beer. Living in southern California after leaving their Colorado home, Theo seeks the truth about the deaths of her mother and her baby sister Charlotte. The family is less than forthcoming: Dad says only that babies died more often in those days; older brother Corb is closemouthed to the extreme; even Evan, their garrulous former housekeeper, has nothing to add. Theo consoles herself with former boyfriend Gregg, churns out precious, adjective-laden copy, and continues her search for any concrete information about her mother’s demise. She happens upon a cache of medical and psychological evaluations and learns that Marian had attempted suicide several times, undergoing electroshock treatment and a stint in a mental hospital before succeeding. Then Theo finds her mother’s letters and discovers that not only had her grandfather raped Marian and younger sister Lyla, he’d done the same to four-year-old Theo. But wait There’s worse to come, as Marian’s correspondence continues with confessions of her own lurid misdeeds. Nothing daunted, Theo gives birth in due time to a daughter and showers her with healthy mother love and . . . milk.

Hammond (stories: Breathe Something Nice, 1997, not reviewed) definitely goes for the baroque here. Overwrought and crammed with often revolting detail.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57962-034-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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