A small gem, written in a lilting southern conversational voice, with an afterword by Gibbons.



A quirky, charismatic, often lyrical second novel (A False Sense of Well Being, 2001), posthumously published; novelist Kaye Gibbons completed the book after her friend’s death, in 2003.

Katy Doyal narrates this tale from the afterlife, from the other side of air, where she is now “hovering about in a state of something like perpetual titillation,” waiting for her husband Ephraim to die and join her. But until then, she has arranged for his upkeep and living, in the form of brassy, intuitive Rose Callahan. That Rose moves into the Doyal’s substantial house without question or complaint, despite having never met Ephraim, is handled with a little bit of humor and a lot of make-believe. Bits of magic envelop the study of Katy and Ephraim’s long relationship, which we learn about through Katy’s words and the long letters of advice Katy’s mother wrote (now being read by Rose so she can better learn Ephraim’s ways). The two met as eight-year-olds (Ephraim digging in the mud, Katy imparting some bossy girlish wisdom) and remained hopelessly romantic through their poverty and then the sudden financial windfall that graced their later years. Their impenetrable union helps to explain the churlishness of their only child, Wyatt. An angry fellow, always feeling like the butt of a private joke, Wyatt has come to Georgia with wife Ann, who will leave him unless he can become a decent person. A tall order, but if he just listens to his mother’s whispered advice, clearer now to him than when she was alive, he may finally grow up and make amends with his father. Braselton’s triumph is in taking a few days and filling them with authentic conversations about anger and love, and creating not something stiffly earnest or maudlin, but a novel that is bright and true.

A small gem, written in a lilting southern conversational voice, with an afterword by Gibbons.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-44310-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2006

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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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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 modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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