by James Robertson ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 1, 2007
A rich, rewarding character study in which spiritual speculation is grounded in an earthy and entertaining realism.
An award-winning Scottish author makes his American debut with the story of a faithless minister who befriends the Devil.
Gideon Mack does not believe in God. He gave that up as a boy, when he discovered that his schoolmates watched Batman on Sunday without suffering divine retribution, and when his own schoolyard blasphemies went unpunished. It comes as something of a surprise, then, when he decides to follow his father into the Church of Scotland. It’s even more surprising when this minister who doesn’t believe in God meets the Devil. This novel is Gideon’s life-story, from his gloomy childhood to the spiritual awakening—and rather shocking behavior—that follow his sojourn with Satan. The Devil does not restore Gideon’s faith in God—Satan himself has neither seen nor heard from his opposite number in quite some time—but he does tantalize Gideon with glimpses of supernatural possibility. He doesn’t offer Gideon salvation, but adventure. The Devil is moody and mercurial and his promises are suspiciously vague, but he is an altogether more appealing figure than the Jesus who haunted Gideon’s childhood as a sort of ghostly busybody. And, of course, the Devil has made himself present and real in Gideon’s life in a way that Jesus never did. There’s nothing radical in Robertson’s theology. The suggestion that God is dead—or, at the very least, retired—has been made before, and the Devil has been a fascinating and even sympathetic character at least since Paradise Lost. It’s true that this Devil is refreshingly free of romance, but Robertson’s real innovation is Gideon: He’s a thoroughly compelling and honestly complex character, someone who’s utterly candid about his vocational fraudulence but only fitfully aware of how dishonesty and fear rule the other aspects of his life, particularly his marriage and friendships. It is both fitting and slightly chilling that when he finally finds true companionship, it’s with the Prince of Lies.A rich, rewarding character study in which spiritual speculation is grounded in an earthy and entertaining realism.
Pub Date: April 1, 2007
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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