A poignant, delightful take on morality, friendship, growing older and the legal profession.

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NOT TOO SHABBY

BARRISTER TALES FROM ED'S BREAKFAST EMPORIUM

In this exquisitely stripped-down novel from Massachusetts attorney Behar (Hoops, 2002), a group of six over-the-hill lawyers swaps case stories over breakfast at the titular greasy spoon.

Every Sunday, Carpenter (the reader never learns his first name) meets fellow attorneys Delaney, Fish, Morton, Steinberg and Weiskoff for coffee, eggs and a sizable helping of good conversation at the same two tables pushed together near the front window of Ed’s Breakfast Emporium. Prickly proprietor Ed has dubbed the group of regulars the “Barristers,” while the men have affectionately adopted the name for their end-of-the-week ritual. Told through a series of vignettes, the novel limns a handful of these breakfasts over the course of five summers as the group discusses politics, the Red Sox and cases on which they have recently toiled—with names judiciously changed, of course. The cases discussed range from heartbreaking ones of broken families without happy endings to more unusual fare, including one involving two Wiccans, a love spell and a restraining order. While the cases may differ, the breakfasts play out with a careful repetitiveness that deliciously captures the routine of everyday life. Weiskoff is always good for an out-of-the-blue comment. Delaney hardly ever fails at steering the conversation back on track. Ed can be relied upon to drop in on the middle of a story, orders in hand, and inject a stinging dose of blue-collar criticism into the white-collar chitchat. It’s not hard to imagine running into these aging, overweight and admittedly unextraordinary characters in real life, yet they remain completely absorbing. Between the witty zingers and moments of lightheartedness, the Barristers each struggle with bouts of dissatisfaction, uncertain about their present lots in life, and readers can’t help but relate.

A poignant, delightful take on morality, friendship, growing older and the legal profession.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4923-1872-9

Page Count: 478

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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