An effortlessly game and amusing satire.

TRUMP DOG

A WILD TALE OF LIES, HAIR DYE, AND DOG POOP

In this novella, a struggling artist pretends that his dog is the reincarnation of Donald Trump for publicity, but the hoax takes on a life of its own.

Jerry Kendall, a freelance artist in Chicago, adopts a pooch from a shelter named Mabel, a “big, dumb, disobedient mutt.” She helps herself to some pumpkin pie one day, and the messy remnants congeal into a kind of “birthmark” on her fur that is the “spitting image” of former President Donald Trump. Trump has been dead for some time now, though Jerry is so thoroughly apolitical he can’t remember when he died or under what circumstances. People take notice, and eventually he’s contacted by a local reporter. Egged on by his friend Orley, Jerry pretends the birthmark is real and that Mabel exhibits the personality traits for which Trump was infamous. Mabel is now an “extreme alpha male,” an alleged genius, and a lover of Fox News. Jerry even uses a hair-coloring product for women—“Miss Caroline ‘Copper’ ”—to render more permanent the likeness. But when the story garners national attention—it’s widely reported that Republicans believe that “Trump Dog” is a reincarnation of the former president—Jerry is overwhelmed by anger from those who loathed Trump and lavished with fawning attention by those who loved him, many wearing “Make America Trumpy Again” hats. Tilberry’s satirical novella thoughtfully reflects on the long shadow cast by a controversial public figure, a shadow that survives even death. The humor is decidedly slapstick—the account of Trump’s last day in office is memorably funny. But while readers will enjoy the blithe silliness, they will also likely be grateful the book is mercifully short. Nevertheless, the author’s story is a breezily easy one to consume—playfully unserious and lightheartedly astute.

An effortlessly game and amusing satire.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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