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

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Jackson Place

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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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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