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THE OUTER BUOY

A STORY OF THE ULTIMATE VOYAGE

De Hartog completes his offbeat series of stories about Dutch sea captain Martin Harinxma (The Centurion, 1989, etc.) with a padded tale that never lives up to its intriguing premise. Harinxma, who last time out dabbled in time travel, is now 82, a widower wallowing in an old age funk, when he is approached by Ellie Bastiaans, former aide to his old employer and enemy, Kwel. She offers Harinxma, and a team of other aged warriors to be selected by him, the opportunity to participate in a startling new attempt to explore the vast ocean of space. Utilizing an OOBE—Out Of Body Experience—Martin and/or one of his cohorts will journey to the moon to obtain dosimeter readings from a Lunar Rover left there by the final manned space flight, Apollo 17. Why men in the last years of their lives would be chosen for such a venture is a disturbing question in Harinxma's mind, but Bastiaans's ability to maneuver Harinxma into doing what she wants (even when he is fully aware of the manipulation) and his own innate curiosity lead him to contact some old comrades and undertake the adventure. Tragedy strikes, however, seemingly ending the project, and Harinxma gets a clear reminder of his own mortality. In the end, he alone chooses to embark on the fateful journey toward a more distant shore than he has ever set out for before. Filled with some interesting ruminations on age and the nature of our lives, this story is ultimately too plodding and drawn out to be satisfying for the casual reader. However, those who have followed Harinxma this far along his epic journey will most likely want to accompany him on the final voyage.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-43604-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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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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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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