THE EAGLE AND THE RAVEN

First printing of a novella-sized outtake from Michener's behemoth Texas (1985): the story of the revolution of 1836, which severed Texas from Mexico, and of the duel between firebrand Sam Houston's insurgent Texicans and a punitive Mexican army led by glory-mongering scoundrel Santa Anna. In a lengthy introduction, Michener explains the publishing history of this novel and of the sunburst of writing that produced ten books from him between 1986 and 1990. As an adventurous adolescent, the 6'2" Houston would escape from his family's Tennessee farm and go live with the Cherokee Indians, take on their ways and learn their language. Santa Anna meanwhile was born a Creole, soon became idled with dreams of military glory, joined the Mexican infantry, quickly rose to command in the cavalry and led his troops in rapacious attacks against Indians and revolutionaries who questioned the authority of the Spanish army. When rebels arose in the northern province of Tejas, Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande to slay them. Earlier, Houston had become a teacher, a lawyer, fought beside General Andrew Jackson, represented the Cherokee in Washington for their treaty, and rose to major-general in the Tennessee Militia because of his commanding presence and oratorical gifts. With Mexico breaking away from Spain and crowning its own emperor, Santa Anna went through a sea-change, became an ardent republican and by 1836 had been four times President of Mexico. With Texas seceding, he marched 5,000 troops noah to confront Davy Crockett, Sam Bowie and their 184 Anglo invaders awaiting the Mexicans at the Alamo in San Antonio. After that slaughter, Houston's outnumbered men attacked Santa Anna at San Jacinto, slaying 600 Mexicans in 18 minutes. Exiled four times, Santa Anna went on to be Mexico's president 11 times, ceded incredible areas of Mexico to the States, and died a pauper but no hero. Rapid semifiction done in bold strokes, though not densely imagined.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1990

ISBN: 074931415X

Page Count: 192

Publisher: State House Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1990

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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