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VALLEY OF TIME

THE GREATEST JOURNEY EVER TAKEN

An understated genre tale that should engage readers with its smart, lighthearted tone.

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A billionaire enlists a noted ex-advertising man to promote space tourism for a public that, in light of a recent UFO sighting, may be a bit wary in this sci-fi-infused sequel.

Convincing the world that a man named Sebastian was the Messiah reborn was just another gig for Mal Thomas. But now he’s famous, with his resultant book a best-seller that has turned him into an “accidental spiritual guru” approached by random strangers. He catches the eye of Huw Hudson, CEO of Space Rider, who aspires to provide outer space tours. Space tourism could be a reality in a matter of years, but a phenomenon in Mthatha, South Africa—unexplained lights and a rugby ball shape—may prove a detriment. Hudson wants Mal to allay any of the public’s potential fears of contact with an alien species. But FBI Special Agent Chloe Swift sees reason to distrust the CEO: she’s unofficially investigating the disappearance of Italian cold fusion physicist Aldo Totti. The physicist vanished while vacationing in Florida but he may have visited Hudson’s Brazilian facility. Mal heads to Mthatha to talk to the town residents, and he and Swift soon deduce that the reputed UFO may have been a hoax, part of a coverup to conceal Hudson’s true agenda. Much of Holden’s (Sea of Doubt, 2016, etc.) story plays like a compelling mystery: the puzzling lights, the missing scientist, and later someone’s kidnapping. The sci-fi elements are minimal but absorbing, especially once whatever Hudson has at his facility is revealed. Mal is a likable, fully developed protagonist who recognizes his faults. He acknowledges that Hudson could be manipulating him, simply because Mal has previously succumbed to similar maneuvering. Mal also observes situations as a sci-fi fan (he’s an admitted Trekkie), though the deft descriptions fortunately don’t rely on pop-culture references. For example, he may anticipate the USS Enterprise for a craft’s cockpit but recounts instead an atypical “cavernous interior.” The eventual diverting foray into sci-fi territory is a revelation for Mal, both as an extraordinary event and a personal experience.

An understated genre tale that should engage readers with its smart, lighthearted tone.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9978970-1-2

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Clean Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2017

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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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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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