THE MANIKIN

Like a consummate magician, Scott (Arrogance, 1990; Various Antidotes, 1994; etc.) conjures up a magic domain in rural New York where a large house, its strange contents, and a white Arctic owl enthrall—and then finally expel—the house's inhabitants. Built in the early 1900s on two thousand remote acres by Henry Craxton, the ``Henry Ford of Natural History,'' Manikin was both a home for his collection of stuffed animals and an expensive indulgence. Nothing was spared in building the house or landscaping the grounds, and a large staff was employed to maintain both in style. Craxton soon died, however, and his widow, fortunes much reduced, lived permanently at the Manikin, while the Craxtons' only surviving son, Hal, dissipated his mother's money in continuous travel. The novel begins in 1927 with Mrs. Craxton alive but frail, and the servants secure in their isolated kingdom. When Junket, the teenaged son of estate manager Lore, innocently shoots a white Arctic owl, Scott subtly introduces the somewhat gothic but still intelligent note that's at the heart of the story. The owl, mounted by the malevolent Boggio, Craxton's resident master taxidermist, is set in a sinister pose—it appears to be screaming—in the master bedroom. Boggio has his reasons, which become clear at the end, but the owl's death begins the unravelling of the magic kingdom. A young woman seduces Peg, the housekeeper's daughter, who's then raped by an intruder; Mrs. Craxton changes her will and dies; Hal returns, is driven away by scandal, and then reappears only to evict the servants, who, away from the Manikin, find the happiness and love denied the cursed house and its owner. A richly atmospheric and literary gothic romp, with settings as realistic and perfectly rendered as Craxton's animals: a novel that splendidly reinforces Scott's reputation as an original and imaginative writer.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8050-3974-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1995

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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