A compassionate tribute to hate-crime victims.

READ REVIEW

A GATHERING STORM

Currier (The Forever Marathon, 2013, etc.) explores Matthew Shepard’s murder in richly empathetic fiction.

Currier recently unearthed his manuscript, written in the wake of Matthew Shepard’s death in 1998. Though set in a small town in the South, “This story could happen anywhere.” Rick and A.J. meet Danny, a gay college student, in a bar and beat him in their truck before leaving him for dead, tied to a fence post. Subsequent chapters bounce between back story and aftereffects, deftly interspersing hospital and police station scenes with vignettes from Danny’s everyday life. After a roadside rape and attempted suicide, Danny wonders how to be a homosexual in the Bible Belt. It is simple to hook up with strangers but impossible “To be out, open, romantically gay in a small town like this.” Written in powerful, choppy sentences and consciously patterned after screenplays and true-crime stories, Currier’s novel is told in the present tense, shifting among the perspectives of the many characters involved. Effective litanies of phrases beginning with “He will not”—“He will not see the snow. But he will feel the cold, his arms numb”—contrast Danny’s carefree activities on the day before the crime with his current incapacitation, revealing the legacy he will not live to see. One bravely cinematic chapter traces a blood sample’s journey to the laboratory. Technical and emotive languages are given equal importance: “his neural repatternings are transforming him into pure spirit”; “Cords snake around chairs, looking for outlets.” Currier’s sympathy also extends to the perpetrators, as he uncovers sexual traumas in their pasts. In a sensitive juxtaposition of Christian responses to homosexuality, the openness of Rev. Fletcher combats the intolerance of Rev. White, who brings his “God Hates Fags” message to town to boycott Danny’s funeral. Readers might find it difficult to keep the many characters straight, especially since most chapters simply open with “He” or “She,” but the large cast shows how widely a crime’s ripples extend. “The story mushrooms, grows branches” and eventually affects us all,” Currier writes. In 1998, he felt “the crime was analyzed and politicized but oddly not humanized”; here he imbues it with human warmth.

A compassionate tribute to hate-crime victims.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937627201

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more