A saucy and ultimately heartwarming tale set in the cutthroat world of high-stakes modeling.

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CATWALK FAIL

A debut novel presents an insider’s view of the professional modeling circuit.

Godfrey’s tale stars male model Colin Bryce Hamilton, who has been in the business five years when he suffers a comedic injury to the only part of his anatomy he’s never shown on a runway. Suddenly he’s dropped by his agency and shaken to his core, flashing back to his earliest days working the Milan fashion shows without knowing what he was doing. “A typical day had me casting with Dolce & Gabbana, cat-walking for Armani and posing for Fendi,” he recalls. “After a month of watching sunglasses-wearing clients flip through my book like it was the Yellow Pages, I didn’t get a single job.” As Colin’s life quickly and systematically falls apart (his conniving friends begin to get the modeling jobs he covets; his love life hits the doldrums; etc.), things are made worse by his sister Jasmine’s announcement that she intends to enter the same modeling world that has recently chewed him up and spat him out. Godfrey portrays Colin as affable, funny, and believably callow (“How many glasses of wine does it take to turn a six-foot Russian girl into a destructive whirlwind of lust?” he muses at one point. “No more than four. I counted”), which makes the experience of seeing him put in a crucible oddly intriguing. The narrative is steeped in the narcissistic realities of the modeling world, but those truths are delivered, usually by Colin directly, in the form of sardonic zingers: “There are few problems in modelling that can’t be solved by a body fat percentage below five.” Yet the characters, from rival models to groupies to shady event coordinators, are textured with authenticity. The twin drives of Colin’s own story—to get his life back on track and to protect his sister from ruining hers—are all the more winning for the hero’s feet of clay.

A saucy and ultimately heartwarming tale set in the cutthroat world of high-stakes modeling.

Pub Date: May 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-974192-57-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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

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