THE PARABLES OF JOSHUA

What curmudgeon would argue?

Once there was a parablist named Joshua and at times his fresh new parables were received with open minds by reviewers (Joshua in the Holy Land, 1992) as Joshua brought peace to the strife-torn Middle East. Yet in still later sheaves, as Joshua set about reforming sin-laden New York City, reviewers felt an encroaching blandness wash over them (Joshua and the City, 1995).

Clearly one cannot read all of Joshua’s parables at one sitting, particularly when one may not share Joshua’s views that God awaits all at journey’s end and will judge the righteous and the unrighteous and that heaven is a shining city to be sought under the guidance of the church while God counts (and recounts) votes for or against us with His mind as open as a left-wing liberal’s while perhaps weighing our interest in the social security of our offspring and the need for enforcing or cutting the death tax and measuring our decision to back or not back legal executions for capital offenses. Why not, a Republican might ask, embrace the wealthy just as warmly as we do the poor and spiritually disenfranchised? But Joshua’s latest parables fearlessly take on the hardhearted businessman, obsessed by the ever-rising value of his stocks, and in no way support Big Money. He takes on moviemakers focused on massacres. He dispenses wisdom about marriage in the parable in which Satan seduces the devoted wife, and in the parable of the ants shows how the peaceful and cooperative ant builds a healthy home life that husbands and wives should look to—though he fails to note the rages between rival ant colonies. To one synagogue he describes God as a Supreme Artist whose masterpiece includes the most far-flung matter in the Universe and whose Artistic Genius is not to be understood quickly, although He has a tender heart, witness our taste buds and eyes and ears for experiencing the ecstasy of His creation.

What curmudgeon would argue?

Pub Date: March 20, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-49511-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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