Asks spiritual questions but offers little in response.

STORY OF A BOY

A LITTLE GREEN BOOK OF REAL FICTION

A young man embarks on a spiritual quest of self-healing in Antonovich’s debut novella.

Jamie has had an unthinkably traumatic start to life. He was put up for adoption at an early age, and his adoptive parents were killed in a car crash. As a young man, he “very much feels like a boy” and is searching for a way to address his emotional pain. After leading a teenage life absorbed in extreme sports and music, he feels the need to “tap into the levels of intelligence and navigate the currents of life.” So begins his spiritual odyssey. At first, Jamie explores psychedelic drugs as a way of searching for “a peak experience.” After taking “clearlight acid,” he finds himself communing with an Aboriginal tracker from another era with whom he can communicate telepathically. He also spends an evening in a sweat lodge, where he experiences visions of unparalleled clarity and intensity. He travels, connects with nature, and writes as a form of therapy. This short work attempts to hold a mirror to the unknowable worlds within us and beyond us. Written by a psychology student-cum-yogi author who “currently resides in a transitional incarnation of sorts in the Northern Rivers of NSW Australia,” the book promises a wild esoteric journey. However, descriptions of intense visions, such as those experienced by Jamie in the sweat lodge, are disappointingly safe and bland: “Similar to being submerged in a big tub of marshmallow. Powdercoated buoyancy in anti-gravity, a welcome relief from the pressure of vacuum. A swathe of images from childhood streamed before him as though it were automatic video-graphic playback.” Antonovich never comes close to describing otherworldliness with the richness or zeal of Paulo Coelho, Carlos Castaneda, and the like. This is a brave attempt to capture the nigh uncapturable in words, but it feels half-heartedly short and lacks plot development and descriptive imagination.

Asks spiritual questions but offers little in response.

Pub Date: March 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5043-1255-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: BalboaPressAU

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2018

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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