THE JUST AND THE UNJUST

There's faint flavor of The Last Adam (Cozzen's best book, in this reader's opinion), more in the sureness of his understanding of the undercurrents of village thought and way of life than in character. The setting is a county seat during a murder trial; the characters are primarily the lawyers on the case, with the ramifications of their families, and with but slight touching upon the principals of the trial or the jury. And yet all fit together into a pattern that — in the final analysis — shows how even the fumblings of the law and the trial by jury processes work together to some sort of result. One feels, in the main characters, a new grouping of personalities in a community :-they are Abner, acting as prosecuting attorney, as, presumably a step towards filling his superior's shoes in the next election, — Bonnie, to whom he is engaged in a typically New England offhand way, — Jesse, small time boss, whose control of his fate irks the independent Abner, and Harry Wurts, attorney for the defense, glib, clever, smart alecky. Abner is prickly and difficult and outwardly unappreciative of the human values of his relationships, but learns — in a series of small shocks to his ego, and in the culmination of the trial with his totally unexpected defeat in the jury's verdict, that life must be one of adjustment and compromise. The story is not the trial — it is the town, the interweaving of the trial with the daily round, the afterhours and social "doings" — and as such it comes alive. There is no character drawn so satisfactorily in the round as the doctor in The Last Adam. One gets less convincing a picture of the community. But the use of the trial as a lever is fresh —and its subordination to other aspects of life make it different from such books as Inquest or The Bellamy Trial.

Pub Date: July 23, 1942

ISBN: 0156465787

Page Count: 444

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1942

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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

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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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