Like Edward feels upon discovering a transcendent piece of art, this book finds that little opening at the edge of your soul...

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THE PRIZE

A respected New York art dealer feels his reputation and the ideals he’s lived by falling out of his grasp in this novel by celebrated poet and memoirist Bialosky (The Players, 2015, etc.).

Art should transport the seer from the ordinary to the sublime”: these words from Edward Darby’s father, a Romantic scholar, are always at the back of his mind. Both driven and haunted by his father's constant search for deeper meaning, Edward has built his career on finding the artists who are reinventing their mediums, creating art that has “the power to suggest that the most ordinary spaces of human life could be made special.” He gets his big break with fragile-but-brilliant artist Agnes Murray, who, in focusing on images from 9/11, has taken the anguish of that day and expressed it on canvas in a way that makes the public look—and, more important, feel. “Art must capture what we’re afraid of most,” Agnes says to Edward, quoting her mentor-turned-husband, Nate Fisher, a provocative megastar of the art world. Bialosky’s writing mirrors these qualities that determine “great work”; she captures in everyday moments the fears that consume us and have the power to either drive us forward or bring us to the brink of collapse. Feeling more and more distant from his wife and, perhaps more disturbingly, his passion for art, Edward finds himself drawn to sculptor Julia Rosenthal, a woman he first met long ago, who stirs up old memories and reinvigorates his appreciation for beauty in all forms. But Edward is aware that "one could not embark upon the new without giving up something in return." And for someone whose life is built around finding the significance in the smallest of moments—moments which Bialosky captures with such powerful insight—there is much at stake for him to lose. In the end, after betrayals and loss and sadness, Bialosky asks her hero to consider what he holds most dear.

Like Edward feels upon discovering a transcendent piece of art, this book finds that little opening at the edge of your soul and seeps in.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61902-570-7

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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