BY LOVE POSSESSED

One of our significant writers of today has written a modern-styled novel that will demand attention whether the public finds it shocking, disturbing, moving, absorbing- or something of each. Be prepared for it to be difficult reading. The style is oddly diffuse, sometimes tortured, often oblique — and at times pictorial, vivid, dramatic. But the substance of the text strikes home. Here are people any one of us might know, people who might be our neighbors, our friends. And Cozzens has cut through the outer trappings to reveal the buried emotions, the mental contrivings, the rationalizations, the confusion that combine to make up the whole man. He has laid bare a community, on the surface a reasonably normal functioning Jersey (?) town. Here is a respectable and revered firm of lawyers, here a doctor, here the wives and mothers and children, the brothers and sisters, here the politicians and their cohorts, here the new minister and the young woman he will marry, here the practised girl on the make and the silly sentimentalist who gets "caught" — and here are the facts behind the facts of their multi-patterned lives. Three sparks light the fires:- a visiting city lawyer comes to investigate a somewhat tangled estate with conflicting demands of the heirs; a wastrel youth is brought to court by a town girl who accuses him of rape; a clergyman plans to request that the church endowment be transferred to a general diocesan fund for operation. Arthur Winner, junior member of the leading firm of lawyers, finds himself involved in all three cases, and as they bring new facts to light more and more people are implicated, and the reader fits the pieces together into a jigsaw puzzle of the townspeople and the principals in a complex two generation story, which holds one spellbound to the end. There are unforgettable scenes — characters that will live always — and no one person comes off unscathed. It's not a book to leave around for teenagers to pick up; there is much in it that will be compared to O'Hara and Ten And much that is as earthy, as bluntly outspoken as Clarison or Tom James. But it must not be dismissed — for here is a profoundly honest piece of America.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1957

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1957

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more