An artfully rendered, suspenseful look at an imaginary turn in Nixon’s presidency.

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A NOVEL

A historical novel that cleverly postulates an alternate reality in which President Richard Nixon refuses to resign.

The author, former chief of staff to Nixon, is well-positioned to pen a novel based on Nixon’s drama-ridden presidency. Taylor’s (Patterns of Abuse, 1988) second book follows the events on the day Nixon announced his intention to vacate the White House in 1974. In this version, without informing his closest advisers, Nixon decides to remain in the Oval Office. In order to properly defend himself against his Watergate accusers, the president invokes the 25th Amendment, which allows him to temporarily hand over his executive powers to Vice President Gerald Ford. Only one person, an unheralded and green staffer, Emily Weissman, seems to be in the know; Nixon asked her to help him craft his bombshell remarks. What ensues is the chaos that often accompanies uncertainty. Will Nixon’s unprecedented transfer of power generate the appearance of national weakness, potentially emboldening North Vietnam to defy a standing peace accord with the South? Will a battered Republican Party, likely to lose even more ground in the upcoming congressional elections, be further demoralized or find renewal in Nixon’s intransigence? Even mundane practical matters seem difficult to settle decisively: Does the Constitution mandate that Ford be sworn in? Emily, a staunch Nixon loyalist, is the beating heart of the narrative, rising to the challenge of history-making. And to complicate matters, she falls for a calculating Reagan operative who takes the other side in an internecine war brewing within the Republican Party. The prose is razor-sharp and historically astute, and the dialogue is crisp and witty. Consider this gem from the staff secretary at the National Security Council; he’s talking to the White House operator after Nixon handed the baton to Ford: “ ‘This is Mr. Szabados at the NSC. May I please speak with the president?’ ‘Which one?’ she said. ‘The one who bombed Cambodia.’ ”

An artfully rendered, suspenseful look at an imaginary turn in Nixon’s presidency.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499530834

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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 strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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