An imperfect but ambitious and appealing comic tale about parenthood and the financial system.


A satirical novel tells the story of a father and daughter whose blog upends the economic status quo.

Jack Sullivan, a former CEO who sold his company in order to stay home and write a book about creating a moral form of capitalism, is becoming increasingly aware of odd things around the house. Someone is replacing the toilet paper rolls incorrectly, for instance. Then he discovers the culprit in the form of a blog called “In the Doghouse: Experimentations in Social Disruption at Home,” authored by none other than his own 12-year-old daughter, Daisy Peanut. It has 34,602 followers. “There are like a thousand of those blogs out there already,” explains Daisy, when asked why she started messing with her family and putting the results on the internet. “I had to look at my surroundings and figure out what was uniquely me. And what is uniquely me is that you people are weird and I really enjoy making fun of it.” Jack and his wife, Catelyn, feel understandably violated, but when he realizes how engaged Daisy’s audience is—so much more than anyone he’s tried to talk to about the way the financial system is rigged in favor of the powerful—he sees an opportunity. It’s a great success—sort of. Daisy’s 34,602 followers quickly balloon into millions, and Jack has unintentionally created a demagogue with a reach far greater than any of them could have foreseen. Barrett’s (Managed Care, 2018) prose is clever and clear, and he manages to fit a good deal of political critique in his characters’ high jinks. Despite some really tone-deaf jokes about immigrant maids and the word “gay” (and attempts to defend such jests), the narration—and the dialogue in particular—is generally funny and engaging. While the premise is not at all realistic, the plot moves quickly, and the author finds a number of curveballs to throw at his well-drawn characters. While not the height of satire, perhaps, it is rare to find such a readable book that attempts to deal so directly with a major (and fairly complex) social issue.

An imperfect but ambitious and appealing comic tale about parenthood and the financial system.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68433-310-3

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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