THE DADDY CLOCK

Charlie Feldman wants a baby. But where is he going to find the woman to bear him one? In a comic debut novel, narrated alternately by 44-year-old Charlie, a sportswriter for a Chicago daily, and Lacy, a 36-year- old single mom at the paper's advice desk, it's the guy, not the woman, who hears the ticking of a biological clock. The voices of both, though, are authentic and touching, displaying a raucous wit as well as Charlie's believable, desperate yearning for a child of his own. His dream, however, isn't likely to be fulfilled: Younger women are too young, and divorced moms his age don't want more kids, so what's a decent guy to do? Write a personal ad, perhaps, as per the advice of Lacy Gazzar. Meeting by chance at the paper, down-to-earth Lacy proves a sympathetic ear, especially as Charlie begins his dating merry-go-round. Considering their mutual attraction, Lacy is the obvious choice for Charlie, though she wants no part either of romance or babyhood. Pregnant at 18, she now has a teenaged, college-bound daughter of her own who's about to flee the nest, leaving Lacy free at last to pursue her own goal of a college education. But while Charlie's on the road following the home team, he and Lacy develop a close bond via the telephone, and an even closer one on an innocent camping trip that becomes transformed into moonlit passion. Accidentally pregnant again, Lacy is the answer to Charlie's dreams, a woman he loves providing a baby to come. But Lacy has other plans, like never seeing Charlie again after she hands over the baby for him to raise. With gritty humor, Markey builds a convincing story—and one that doesn't follow predictable lines. The only question is whether Lacy can stick to her resolution to stay away. With wit and warmth, newcomer Markey, a longtime syndicated humor columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times, gets the tone just right.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-553-10783-6

Page Count: 261

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1997

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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 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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