A gothic novella that captures the sensuality of both love and grief.

CEREMONIALS

In Coldiron’s (After Gardens, 2019) haunting novella, inspired by the Florence + the Machine album of the same name, two young women struggle to accept their lost love after death tears them apart.

Two months before their graduation from The Cartwright School for Young Ladies, Amelia and Corisande, a young couple, take a boat out on the lake—their quiet spot to “scream or laugh…be alone together, to pretend no one else had ever seen [them].” But when Corisande jumps into the freezing water, dives to the bottom, and drowns, Amelia is left to face the world alone: “The wind swept through the Cartwright School and scattered us, leaves, across the sky. I went to a city and…found a room to sleep in, floorboards where I planted memories of you.” Coldiron’s language, which dances between poetry and prose, retains the soul of its source material while evoking the fragmentary nature of a young life in mourning. Her imagery, meanwhile, conjures a sensuous, gothic atmosphere—one as haunting and ubiquitous for the reader as Corisande’s ghost is in Amelia’s life. Most powerful, perhaps, is Coldiron’s ability to capture Amelia’s yearning for the physical touch of a body that is no more: “And there you are...your skin rosy as a peach…I crawl and I clutch at your calves and I crack open my heart to howl at the tree that curves over the gravestones, you, glimmering, the thing in my arms a flat stone carved with your name, Corisande.” This story, however, is not only Amelia’s, and chapters narrated by Corisande convey her own desperation to bridge the gap between the world of bodies and that of spirits. While not every reader will instantly take to Coldiron’s heightened language—it is sometimes difficult to settle into the dreamscape—the emotions of this passionate love story always feel sincere.

A gothic novella that captures the sensuality of both love and grief.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73232-515-9

Page Count: 134

Publisher: KERNPUNKT Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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