A quick-witted comedy about celebrity a bit too tongue-in-cheek for its own good.



What if the “Miracle on the Hudson” were completely faked by an unscrupulous airline company in order to boost prices?

And what if we got a guy to write the whole thing up just like Carl Hiaasen? Frequent McSweeney’s contributor Methven employs a very familiar menagerie of misfits, misanthropes and damaged goods in his episodic debut novel. Told over the course of seven days, the book chronicles the epic story of Air Wanderlust Flight 2921. In the midst of a routine flight, the plane loses both engines in a “birdstrike,” and Captain Hank Swagger brings the flying brick to a miraculous halt in the Hudson River, saving all 162 souls on board. Except that it’s all a ruse, an invention designed to save the company and turn its alcoholic cowboy pilot into a national hero. To lend the book comic heft, Methven follows two additional passengers. The first, Normal Fulk, is a con man who recently faked his own death and is mourning the loss of his most prized possession—a vial containing the frozen sperm of John Lennon. “And really, passengers, was it not inevitable that it would come to this—the general citizenry, those with a little cash left and looking to burn it on a new vice—wanting to own the genetic code of their most beloved celebrities?” Methven asks. Where the book ratchets up the absurdity is in the story of Lucy Springer, a media darling whose two loves were her banker husband and a doppelganger named “Ava Tardner,” the puppet costume she was wearing when she shot up her cheating husband’s office. This leads a judge to sentence her to wear the puppet at all times, even on air. It’s Lucy who begins pulling at the frayed edges of the Swagger story, unraveling it bit by unhinged bit. Don’t miss Methven’s psychotic, if interactive, reading group guide at the end.

A quick-witted comedy about celebrity a bit too tongue-in-cheek for its own good.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4215-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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