When O'Brien's first novel, Leaving Las Vegas (1991), became a hit movie, making his reputation as a chronicler of social misfits, his early death (196994) was properly mourned. But, sadly, this addition to his small body of work, while it reminds us of his distinctively harsh vision of life, is not a repeat of that earlier book. Mild-mannered Carroll has two things going in his life: his day job as head file clerk in a conniving L.A. law firm, and his nightly refuge, Indiscretions, a stripper club that draws him like a moth to a flame. All but invisible in both places, he begins to metamorphose suddenly one night when a new dancer, Stevie, enters the club and becomes the object of his obsession. Too shy to talk to her at first, by the second night he's mustered just enough courage to request a private dance with her, which, even though it takes all his money, gives him a taste of heaven and the conviction that Stevie is an angel. The next step for Carroll is to buy a new wardrobe, one that he thinks will impress her, but as his confidence builds and more contact with her makes her friendlier toward him, he inadvertently crosses the line that separates them, violating the club's rules of conduct with immediate, devastating results. Now wild in his desperation, he refuses to go back to his cocoon of meekness, first confronting another dancer in the club, then the powers-that-be in the firm, deliberately crossing the line each time, and finally walking away from his job to see if he can't salvage some hope of friendship with Stevie—who responds not unkindly to his need. The club world, distilled to its seedy essence, and O'Brien's acknowledged grasp of lonely lives, male and female, are impressive. But the essential element of character chemistry never clicks here, so that plot contrivance and cool observation remain mostly visible for what they are.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8021-3507-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


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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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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