INTO THE DEEP

Sugary New Age nonsense cripples Grimwood's (Replay, 1986, etc.) mildly inventive eco-thriller, in which humans and dolphins join forces to save Santa Barbara, Calif., from volcanic disaster. Dolphins, it turns out, employ a sophisticated imaging language to talk to each other; their conversations consist of sonic pictures rather than grammatically arranged words. Scientist Sheila Roberts makes this discovery at almost the same time that she learns of her own status as a telepathic Linker, selected in childhood by the dolphins to act as a contact for the New Directives, a program of interspecies cooperation commissioned by the omniscient Sources (whales) and pursued by members of dolphin society who possess the Linking Talent. Sheila has two Linker confederates, also chosen by the dolphins: her lover, Daniel Colter, a gruff young journalist, and Antonio Batera, a salty old Portuguese tuna fisherman whose boat is responsible for routine dolphin/porpoise slaughters. They're eventually joined by petroleum engineer Jeb Sloane, whose high-tech, laser-drilling oil rig imperils Santa Barbara; by inadvertently punching into an unknown magma chamber, the corporation he works for is about to unleash the molten fury of the planet's core. Jeb's not a Linker, but Sheila and Daniel have no trouble convincing him to help them steal the drilling equipment to divert the underwater eruption harmlessly out to sea, especially after he sees videotaped dolphin-images warning of the potential threat. Grimwood manages to cram several dolphin characters into all this as well: Ch*Tril, a dolphin historian, along with her mate, Dj\Tal (both are capable of linking), struggle to bring the New Directives to humanity while fighting a bloody civil war with their killer-whale Death-Cousins. The whole story transpires under the placid watchfulness of the Sources' universal mind, which has decided to interrupt the human march of environmental destruction. Just the sort of thing dolphins would make fun of, if they could read.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 1995

ISBN: 0-688-08799-X

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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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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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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