L. Ron Hubbard on a skateboard.



Self-proclaimed philosopher and creator of a “genuine world philosophy” Wilber (The Marriage of Sense and Soul, 1998) delivers a talky and tedious so-called novel of ideas to explain a cloying system of categorization, the need for which is never made clear.

Wilber’s main character is a young graduate student named Ken Wilber, who is obsessed with the “fact” that artificial intelligence will exceed human intelligence in about 30 years. But forget plot: this is postmodernism, and what we get is the thinnest sheen of narrative as Ken attends lecture after lecture of busty professorettes who sound as though they are reading excerpts from Wilber’s exhausting explanation of modern society. The strategy seems to be that popularization of New Age sociology can be achieved through personality color-coding: for example, archaics are beige, animists are red, mythics are blue, etc., a notion pounded home repeatedly. The title comes from the supposition that the baby boomer generation displays a good deal of narcissism. In making the accusation, it can be argued, Wilber engages in a good bit of the same himself, and seemingly the best justification he dredges up for all the hyper-jargon and semi-technical tongue-twisters here comes in eighth-grade double-entendres delivered in bold script through Chloe, a faceless nympho vixen who reminds us that, in the end, thinking is no fun unless there’s sex involved. The story provides excuses for professors to say things like “But in order to move into second tier, the fixation to pluralism and the green meme in general needs to be relaxed” and for Chloe to say things like “If we live 200,000 years, you and I will be able to make love at least a billion times.” But the more important agenda is the hodge-podge and ongoing survey of recent postmodern scholarship and goofy New Age brain-teasers examined through the paradigm of an inescapably wacky pseudo-philosophy.

L. Ron Hubbard on a skateboard.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57062-801-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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 strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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