Idiosyncratic, outlandish—and a good read.

EVERY THIRD THOUGHT

Barth delivers a slim postmodern novel about—what else?—a postmodern novelist experiencing a series of uncanny coincidences and visions.

Narrator G.I. Newett (try saying it aloud) and his wife Amanda, a poet, both teach at Stratford College, a small liberal arts school on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, when weird things start to happen. First, their home is destroyed by a tornado. Then, on a subsequent trip to Europe (in the “other” Stratford, no less), Newett experiences a fall that has all the self-conscious theological resonance Barth can ring from it. What the narrator calls his Accidental Head-Bang occurs on September 22, 2007, not so coincidentally Newitt’s 77th birthday (or the 77th anniversary of his “expulsion from the maternal womb," as he puts it), Yom Kippur and the autumnal equinox. Then begins a series of “post-equinoctial visions,” as well as meditations on those visions, that take Newett back to childhood memories of his best friend Ned Prosper. Newitt relives his early adolescent fumblings, free-wheeling camping trips that involve partner-swapping with Ned and his girlfriend, his short-lived relationship with his first wife and the cultural landscape of the past four decades. The narrative takes place in both past and present, the latter conveyed through generous dialogue with Amanda, a partner every bit as intelligent and sharp-witted as the narrator himself. The brilliance of the novel emerges through Newett’s quirky word play (his reference to the “autumnal equi-knocks," for example, or his discovery that he’s a “'maker-upper, not a tell-aller’”). Eventually he decides to complete the prematurely deceased Ned’s unfinished novel—called Every Third Thought.  

Idiosyncratic, outlandish—and a good read.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58243-755-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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