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UNBURY CAROL

With another fascinating novel that traffics in strange and transporting states of being, Malerman (Black Mad Wheel, 2017,...

In a surreal, Wild West take on Sleeping Beauty, storied outlaw James Moxie must save his one-time lover Carol Evers from being buried alive.

Only a few people aside from Carol's shifty husband, Dwight, know that she suffers from a condition that periodically sends her spiraling into a coma resembling death and a place she calls Howltown. "Unable to shoulder the burden of caring for a woman who died so often," Moxie disappeared from her life 20 years ago. Her close friend John Bowie, in whom she also confided, has just died. Fearing that should Dwight die when she's in a coma, no one will know not to bury her, she entrusts her secret to a young maid. But it's Dwight who proves to be her greatest threat. Having had it with her freakish condition and wanting to freely lay hands on her money, he decides to make her latest "death" permanent by burying her alive. To get to her first, Moxie, who is drawn back into Carol's life by an odd funeral announcement dispatched by the maid, must elude a ruthless killer with tin legs named Smoke—a man "as monstrous as anything local folklore had invented." Other evil forces, as well as good, abound. Though the book sometimes recalls Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Malerman is too fierce an original to allow anyone else's vision to intrude on his. Where other novelists, including Gaiman, would lighten things with humor, Malerman achieves his narrative intensity with a dead seriousness. As with his other novels, this one haunts for reasons you can't quite put your finger on.

With another fascinating novel that traffics in strange and transporting states of being, Malerman (Black Mad Wheel, 2017, etc.) again defies categories and comparisons with other writers.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-18016-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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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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