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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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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