Next book

THE FIRES OF SPRING

The Pulitzer Prize winner- with his memorable Tales of the South Pacific — is not an author to be passed over lightly. Nor does his new book belie his claim to a rare gift of yarn spinning and writing vigorous, unhackneyed prose. But- and it is a big but- the enthusiasts of the earlier book will find little that captures that appeal in this new book. He has done, what so many young authors seem to need to do, analyzed the painful growing pains of adolescence almost ad nauseam. To be sure, Michener is a gifted story teller, and his new book has the pace and drama only too often absent. But basically, it is a long-spun story of youth growing up. David Harper has a unique background. He was brought up in a Poor Farm, where his aunt, who grudgingly supported him, held a job, and pinched pennies for her own future security. David had no self-consciousness or shame about his domestic background. In fact, he loved the old men whose idol he was; for them, he lived the potential futures they had missed. And for most readers this will be the memorable part of the book. One is taken into the life stream of the poorhouse- and, extraordinarily enough, Michener has succeeded in doing this without descending to maudlin sentimentality. Then David gets another chance, a step up, which leads to a second escape, and the lure of the stage, although only the itinerant stage of the Chautauqua. He's had two summers schooling in the hard school of an amusement park, where it is assumed that the operators will make their lagniappe on the side, by some crookedness or other. Then he has a glimpse of a cleaner, straighter world, before he is caught in the abortive passion of his thwarted love for Mona, and the intricacies of the Chautauqua life. Schooling- college- an urge to make his own road to literary success- provide a thread of purpose through the often sordid by-paths of his summer money-making ventures, and his explorations into sultry passion. There are unpalatable bits- and others in clearcut drama that balance them off. But the book seems overlong in its exploration of the intricacies of adolescence and growing up, a singularly devious route to maturity. A book to assess for a particular market, rather than to accept on the author's earlier achievement.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1949

ISBN: 0345483057

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1948

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 38


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Next book

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 38


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:
Next book

THE RUMOR

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Hilderbrand’s latest cautionary tale exposes the toxic—and hilarious—impact of gossip on even the most sophisticated of islands.

Eddie and Grace Pancik are known for their beautiful Nantucket home and grounds, financed with the profits from Eddie’s thriving real estate company (thriving before the crash of 2008, that is). Grace raises pedigreed hens and, with the help of hunky landscape architect Benton Coe, has achieved a lush paradise of fowl-friendly foliage. The Panciks’ teenage girls, Allegra and Hope, suffer invidious comparisons of their looks and sex appeal, although they're identical twins. The Panciks’ friends the Llewellyns (Madeline, a blocked novelist, and her airline-pilot husband, Trevor) invested $50,000, the lion’s share of Madeline’s last advance, in Eddie’s latest development. But Madeline, hard-pressed to come up with catalog copy, much less a new novel, is living in increasingly straightened circumstances, at least by Nantucket standards: she can only afford $2,000 per month on the apartment she rents in desperate hope that “a room of her own” will prime the creative pump. Construction on Eddie’s spec houses has stalled, thanks to the aforementioned crash. Grace, who has been nursing a crush on Benton for some time, gives in and a torrid affair ensues, which she ill-advisedly confides to Madeline after too many glasses of Screaming Eagle. With her agent and publisher dropping dire hints about clawing back her advance and Eddie “temporarily” unable to return the 50K, what’s a writer to do but to appropriate Grace’s adultery as fictional fodder? When Eddie is seen entering her apartment (to ask why she rented from a rival realtor), rumors spread about him and Madeline, and after the rival realtor sneaks a look at Madeline’s rough draft (which New York is hotly anticipating as “the Playboy Channel meets HGTV”), the island threatens to implode with prurient snark. No one is spared, not even Hilderbrand herself, “that other Nantucket novelist,” nor this magazine, “the notoriously cranky Kirkus.”

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33452-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

Categories:
Close Quickview