Garey breathes life into an uncomfortable and often misunderstood subject and creates a riveting experience.

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TOO BRIGHT TO HEAR TOO LOUD TO SEE

Screenwriter Garey’s no-nonsense debut about a man who struggles with bipolar disorder is gripping and straightforward.

Greyson Todd is a financially successful and respected Hollywood studio executive who suffers from the same debilitating mental illness that once tortured his father. Recalling his mother’s agony and the hatred he felt as he dealt with his father and his early life, Todd is terrified, with good reason, that he will suffer the same fate. One evening, he simply abandons his wife and 8-year-old daughter and begins a frenzied excursion that takes him to exotic locales around the world, where he indulges in erotic acts and self-gratifying excesses that frequently end in violence. He gets duped by Bedouins, roams sex bazaars in Thailand, impersonates a professor and marries the widow of an AIDs victim in Africa. Following one destructive episode, Todd acknowledges that he is his own personal tsunami, an apt description for the devastation he causes himself and others in his wake. And much like the irregular and illogical behavior that characterizes his illness, Todd’s story is told in snippets and pieces that seem to represent his chaotic life: childhood memories of a father who could never hold a job for long and went on wild spending sprees, yet who tenderly encouraged his son; experiences during his travels; his time in a psychiatric ward undergoing electroshock therapy and the resultant memory lapses. Todd himself exhibits a cacophony of different reactions to his situations. At times he’s repulsive, sympathetic, comical, tragic, witty, self-absorbed, kind and regretful. But thanks to Garey’s accomplished narrative, no matter the emotions Todd’s actions elicits from readers, his character is always interesting and real.

Garey breathes life into an uncomfortable and often misunderstood subject and creates a riveting experience.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61695-129-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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