ALNILAM

In Dickey's first novel since Deliverance (1970), Frank Cahill, who owns and runs a public swimming pool in Atlanta before WW II, goes blind from a raging case of diabetes. The insult is great, but greater still is news of the death of his son Joel (a child Cahill never knew) in an Air Corps training crash. So Cahill journeys with his dog Zack to the Air Corps base in North Carolina, where he's welcomed at first as an object of pity. But not for long: Cahill begins in his sightless way to delve, through heard voices and by way of phrasings alone, into the mystery of Joel's death. Joel, it turns out, was chief magus in a corpsmen-cult called Alnilam, a mixture of astrology, the Aprocrypha, Nietzsche, etc.—and Dickey strives mightily to fix this arcane canopy (not unreminiscent, incidentally, of one of Dickey's own more shaky longer poems, on the Zodiac) over this 683-page novel. But it doesn't come to much—and what perhaps would have held interesting immediacy as a short story turns into a force-fed ordeal of reiterated good-old-boy common sense and highfalutin metaphor. And device: for Cahill's blind-seeker thoughts are, in most scenes, set apart in bold type to one side of the page, while the sighted (and usually dullard) reality is to the other side of the page. The Cahill bold-type—sense-information mostly—runs to the molten flab of Dickey's poetry at its worst ("Which girl is still in the circle where all others are gone? Which face outlasted the death ball? She came at him as through the eye of a lock. His chest was the sound of a coring-drill; in his belly, it massed with the unbroken sullenness of organ music"), and the result overall—rather ping-ponging and eye-crossing—is one less of reward than of a long and wearying confusion.

Pub Date: June 5, 1987

ISBN: 1558170863

Page Count: 770

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1987

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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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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