Love him or hate him, Steven weighs his options with a unique and strong voice as he searches for the value of commitment in...

ASKING ANNA

A NOVEL

In Seliger’s quirky debut, a 20-something who’s reluctant to propose to his girlfriend brings her to Seattle to visit old friends before he makes his final decision.

Rather than boarding the plane and seeing what happens, Steven is standing quietly in the security line thinking deep thoughts: “there is no better setting for revelation than a trip, ideally one fraught with meaning.” His internal monologue is, at times, overly ponderous. It’s also funny. Steven’s influences range from economist Dan Ariely to comedian Chris Rock as he tries to explain why he’s still carrying Anna’s ring around in a box rather than giving it to her; lists, charts, and footnotes illustrate his reasons. Even the auto-filled answers he finds in Google’s search results seem to offer insights on the differences between men and women when it comes to love (e.g., “why won’t she swallow” vs. “why won’t he marry me”). Some of his observations are eloquent—“so many old people become bitter over time, like over-brewed cups of tea”—while others are crude: “I like forward girls. And wet ones.” Steven tries consulting his old college buddies and casual partners about his dilemma, but all they do is become mirrors, showing him his own flaws. His friend Cooper, for instance, is too much of a party animal to have a mature opinion about marriage, and when Steven is tempted by other women in bars, he finds he’s not much better than Cooper. While Steven considers himself to be an academic, Anna more aptly describes him as being “in his late twenties, going on 16.” He’s so self-absorbed that Anna’s character is often more of an abstract idea than a living, breathing woman. It takes a cancer scare to show that Steven’s fear of adulthood isn’t limited to his fear of commitment. He barely acknowledges that his lab results might bring bad news as he stays out all night while Anna sleeps. He also fails to consider that Anna’s commitment to him isn’t guaranteed.

Love him or hate him, Steven weighs his options with a unique and strong voice as he searches for the value of commitment in a hookup culture.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495242212

Page Count: 242

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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