STAR QUALITY

And you thought that shopping-and-fornicating fiction had gone the way of Michael Milken. Wrong, given the evidence of this debut novel by Hall, a young publishing executive whose inspiration is clearly Jackie Collins. Apparently working on the assumption that more is more, Hall creates a cast list of Hollywood has-beens and wannabes longer than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade—among them, mega boy-star Drew Stern, he of the unhappy childhood, who lands top billing in director Mark Bauer's new movie, Long Journey Home, and jogs past pretty Laura Danby, whose ex is a Mafia foot soldier named Nico, recently released from prison and out to get Laura for not standing by her man. Meanwhile, Mafia don Paul Fontana puts the screws on Mark (who can't pay back his Vegas gambling debts) in order to get a part in the picture for his daughter, Gabrielle, a soap-opera sex kitten with the morals of an alley cat. Gabrielle's hubby is the fading screenwriter Harrison Moore. He's invited Gabrielle's assistant, outrageously ambitious Grace Warren, into his bed, but shafts her out of credit as coauthor of his latest screenplay. Not to be bested, Grace electrocutes him in his hot tub—a fitting end for Harrison, who's been trying to murder Gabrielle. And then there's Diana Holloway, film siren of ages past and mother of aspiring actress Kelly (as a mom, she ``makes Joan Crawford look like Donna Reed''). Diana gets particularly miffed when Kelly marries her old flame, Graham Denning, yet another actor whose name will appear in the credits of Long Journey Home. The story climaxes with four murders (and many more attempted ones), the film becoming a big hit, and all the right gals getting the right guys—plus plenty of Gucci shoes. Lots of hot sex, twisted plotting, and new meaning for the phrase ``over the top.''

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1993

ISBN: 1-55611-346-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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