Wanting it both ways: lots of pulpy sex embedded in a tale that eventually turns and tries to paint itself as moral vision.”

HUNGRY GHOST

A debut tries, somewhat desperately, to put spirituality and love back into the modern romance story.

You’re Carter Cox, the 39-year-old photographer protagonist of a second-person love story. You have affairs with beautiful models on a regular basis, but life just isn’t satisfying. Not even your Buddhism is helping. “So what is Buddhism exactly?” you think. “You often wonder about this when you sit down to meditate back home.” Then you meet Mia, who thinks you look like Jeff Bridges. Mia studies Art History in Texas, in addition to Buddhism. You’re captivated by her. “My Buddha statue holds your flower,” you write her. She plays hard to get—really, hardest to get, because she’s a true virgin. You try to reconcile arousal with Om Mani Padme Hung. But don’t worry, Mia will agree to an innocent romance—not quite before you buckle and purchase those porn DVDs, but before you slip them into the hard drive. The romance that follows won’t run smooth, as you’re still caught up in that decadent nonspiritual of sex with supermodels, sometimes with more than two people present. But Mia is so tempting, and isn’t your refusal to shoot for Playboy an indication that you really long for something pure? Perhaps taking Mia to Marrakesh will reveal whether the two of you are soulmates who can live up to the meaning of “full-sexual penetration.” In contrast to Bright Lights, Big City, where the second person was a stand-in for indictment and shame, the device here seems intended solely to make you think you care more than you probably do for this Colin Harrison prose dressed up for Easter Sunday. Casablanca has mischief and suspense for our clean lovers, but is it enough for you to give in and pop the question after all these dirty years?

Wanting it both ways: lots of pulpy sex embedded in a tale that eventually turns and tries to paint itself as moral vision.”

Pub Date: May 9, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-052390-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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