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HE WHO FEARS THE WOLF

Less mystifying than Sejer’s English-language debut (Don’t Look Back, 2004), but memorably creepy in its portrayal of a...

Norway’s Chief Inspector Konrad Sejer hunts a bank robber who’s taken a murder suspect hostage.

Farm widow Halldis Horn has kept to herself ever since her husband died, and it’s unthinkable that anyone could have driven a hoe into her brain for the paltry sum in her wallet. But although Officer Robert Gurvin is slow to credit the testimony of troubled schoolboy Kannick Snelligen, Halldis really is lying dead across her front door; her wallet really is missing; and Errki Johrma, a psychotic Finn escaped from a nearby asylum, really was lurking in the farm’s bushes and left his fingerprints inside Halldis’s house. Sejer and his troops are going to have to wait to question him, though, because Errki’s walked into a bank at precisely the wrong time—just a minute or two before Sejer himself, acting on a hunch, stepped in and then out—and got grabbed by Morgan, a robber who thinks his hostage is a mute woman. As the cops scramble to run down the two fugitives, Morgan and Errki eye each other as if they were members of different species. But it’s only a matter of time before Morgan figures out who his captive really is—and before Kannick Snelligen stumbles on the volatile pair.

Less mystifying than Sejer’s English-language debut (Don’t Look Back, 2004), but memorably creepy in its portrayal of a violently mismatched pair of misfits.

Pub Date: July 6, 2005

ISBN: 0-15-101091-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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