A swift, unusually entertaining journey through present-day public relations.

SEA OF DOUBT

THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD

Holden (Second that Emotion, 2012) offers a novel about a possible new Messiah—and a company that must sell the world on the concept.

After a successful career at advertising firm CREATIF, 51-year-old Mal Thomas is set to retire in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his dear wife, Mara. Although he left on poor terms with his former colleague Oliver “OMG” Melville Grouse III, he’s ready to relax—that is, until a former client lures him out of retirement with an incredible offer. Mal, along with others from his old firm, are taken by private jet to Miami to meet with Alfredo Baptiste, a Cuban refugee who leads BAPTIST, a massive company involved in “seemingly every key area of American business and industry.” He’s worked with CREATIF in the past, and now he has a lucrative assignment for them—if they’re willing to take it. In short, he wants to tell the world that a young man from Brazil named Sebastian is the Messiah. It’s an odd offer, to say the least, but after some discussion (and some reflection on Alfredo’s willingness to pay them lots of money), Mal and his team agree to the challenge. They tackle it in an ever-so-modern way, using social media, celebrities, and their own advertising savvy. The story follows an oddly believable path; if a company were trying to sell the world on a Messiah, this might very well be how they would do it. The plot does takes time to develop—many initial pages are devoted to Mal’s background, including his childhood in England, and a rundown of his colleagues—but once things get moving, the book is hard to put down. Readers will quickly ascertain that there are two ways for the story to go: either Sebastian truly is the Messiah and there’s a supernatural climax in store, or some sort of hoax is afoot and readers must try to ascertain the rub of it all. Figuring this out proves to be an enjoyable adventure as seen through the eyes of a most unlikely hero.

A swift, unusually entertaining journey through present-day public relations.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9978970-0-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Clean Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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