Wall Street Journal editor Wells can turn a charming phrase—sometimes to the point of the saccharine—but this last of his...



A Cajun alligator hunter goes on the run after standing up to a racist sheriff whose nephew attacked his son.

After a justified fracas with the law, Logan LaBauve and Chilly Cox, a black teenager who came to the defense of Logan’s son Meely (the title character of Wells’s first, Meely LaBauve, 2000), must leave Meely behind, since he’s broken his leg. The two escape through the bayou in a pirogue (a Cajun canoe, according to the accompanying glossary). Surviving a water-moccasin, wasps, mosquitoes, and a crazy man in a boat, they hide from sheriff’s deputies and encounter a sweet old woman whose dead husband has been rocking on her back porch for days. Their luck improves when they run across an oil-field employee whose uncle has hunted with Logan. He introduces the two to Catfish Annie, a widow of some means and high moral character. The attraction between Logan, a widower, and the more educated Annie is obvious though left unspoken. After putting them up for a night, she arranges for a local cabbage farmer to drive them to Tupelo, Mississippi, where Chilly’s uncle has a farm. On the road, their truck is waylaid by a professor-turned-robber and his cronies—who bear an unmistakable resemblance to the felonious acting troupe Huck Finn encountered a century earlier. Once safely ensconced in Tupelo, Chilly, whose character has never been fully developed, drops out of the story while Logan goes home to check on Meely, now staying with his teacher (more shades of Twain). Then Logan heads to Florida, where he’s been offered a job on an alligator farm. He stops off to visit Annie, and romance blooms. She decides to drive him to Florida, and the storm of the title turns out to be a hurricane they barely survive.

Wall Street Journal editor Wells can turn a charming phrase—sometimes to the point of the saccharine—but this last of his bayou trilogy never matures into more than a string of picaresque adventures.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-50525-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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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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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 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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