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 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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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