A quick-witted insider’s view of the blogosphere, media pandering, Internet privacy and the difficulty of being a good girl...

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SAD DESK SALAD

Fat celebrity thighs and coke-sniffing coeds are fair fodder in this rollicking tour into the life of a gossip blogger, from former Slate editor Grose.

When Alex graduated from Wesleyan, she was hoping for a job in serious journalism. Change the world kind of stuff. But alas, she ended up at an NYC online music journal. When an offer to write for Chick Habit came along (a real salary and the chance to write about real issues), she counted herself lucky. That was before the quotas began—she needs a million hits a month, or else. So goodbye sad stories about foreign ladies, hello Real Housewives. This new numbers game is keeping Alex shackled to her laptop, scanning news feeds all day for potentially sexy stories to blog about. Alex knows things are out of hand when her sweet boyfriend, Peter, begs her to shower. Monday begins with a story about a fallen beauty queen, but then Alex gets wind of a hate blog directed at her: Break the Chick Habit, or BTCH. Alex, Tina and Rel, two other writers at Chick Habit, commiserate over scorpion bowls. Hate bloggers are common, but this one seems to have a lot of intimate information. Tuesday brings Alex a shot at blogger fame when an anonymous link is sent to her email. In the video, Becky West, MIT wunderkind, is shown snorting coke. Hardly unconventional college behavior, but it’s newsworthy because Becky’s mother is Darleen West, Tiger mom famous for her patronizing parenting books. Alex isn’t sure she should publish—does Becky deserve the notoriety? Alex’s boss, Moira, herself born of the flames of U.K. tabloids, pushes forward. The next day, the video goes viral, Alex will soon appear on the Today show, and BTCH is threatening to expose some dark secrets. Before she has a nervous breakdown, Alex has to find the missing Becky, track the creator of BTCH, reconcile with a furious Peter and patch up her fading sense of self.

A quick-witted insider’s view of the blogosphere, media pandering, Internet privacy and the difficulty of being a good girl in a bad, bad world.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-218834-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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