An exceptional read; Peter Jangle could carry a third book, even without the Sandman.

PETER JANGLE AND THE NEW MADRID DISCOVERY

Events lead a college student to accept the possibility that he must once again face an ominous genie called the Sandman.

New Madrid, Mo., is the epicenter of a magnitude-6.8 earthquake, and Peter, his friends and family feel the tremors in Indiana. Peter sees fleeting images of the Sandman, who tormented him three years ago (Peter Jangle Uncorks the Inflation Genie, 2011). After he and his friends all leave for summer jobs, the young man believes the earthquake, unbearably hot days and a few people’s extraordinarily good fortune all point to one thing—the evil genie is back. Marske’s novel packs a lot into the pages, as Peter, his girlfriend, Sarah, and their friends, Tom, Jerry and Kathy, each enhance the narrative. The friends’ lives, all seemingly different, do ultimately converge. Peter, who works at a money management firm, suspects the Sandman may have helped a trader obtain inside information, assisted an unscrupulous employee at Sarah’s father’s bank and helped a doctor who’s developing an untested body-enhancing drug. The story goes into great detail concerning investments at both the firm and bank, and while it helps the reader understand what Peter’s doing at work, it also has the tendency to sidetrack the main plot: the Sandman’s imminent reappearance. Marske wisely keeps the genie at a distance for most of the book, deriving suspense from the uncertainty of who’s encountered the Sandman. Meanwhile, the subplots, including Peter’s jealousy of Sarah’s charming boss, and Jerry’s (who’s black) concerns about dating a white Jewish woman, take a shine all their own. While comparing Orwell’s Animal Farm with Peter’s workplace is a bit of a stretch, Peter’s boss does explicitly compare employees to animals, and the author seasons his novel with shrewd analogies: Tony, the pigheaded trader, clinches his arguments by feeding goldfish to piranha; and the Sandman, comparable to the goatlike devil, offers cash for souls. 

An exceptional read; Peter Jangle could carry a third book, even without the Sandman.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985259006

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Peter Jangle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2013

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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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