An intriguing, multifaceted read highlighted by an alluring lead and his loquacious sidekick.


Irvine’s debut is a revenge story and a gay romance involving men coming to terms with their lives, sexuality and family secrets in the world of New York advertising.

Advertising heir Richard “Ric” Terrence Smythe-Bigge has it all, and longtime wingman Hal Burke is there to gush and narrate. Ric is the “spice rack of power, looks, money, and personality to the sauté pan of our relationship,” says the awestruck Hal with all the fawning of someone who’s been “riding in his draft” since college. But Ric is unhappy working for his legendary father, Malcolm. Extremely loathsome and despised by his family, Malcolm is suspected of having a hand in his brother Terry’s death. Now, a play written by Terry before he died is the torch Ric holds for his uncle’s unappreciated talent. Staging it could help Ric escape his father’s dark, sinister shadow. Ric and Hal get to work on the play, but every obstacle bears Malcolm’s fingerprints. After a commercial spot is sabotaged, Malcolm fires Ric and Hal, stripping Ric of his assets. During a retreat, Ric reveals to Hal that he’s gay; Hal feels betrayed yet accepting. Ric disappears into gay life and, banished from advertising, uses his only remaining resources to make a living. Hal, meanwhile, is rehired by Malcolm, and for several years, “Life spread its opportunities before me like a nymphet dropping rose petals in a DeMille epic.” Hal comes into his own by living the dream life Ric once possessed, yet something is missing. The two reunite to find they have something much deeper than platonic friendship; and when Malcolm decides to retire, his farewell retrospective involves his estranged family and reveals more than they’d like to make known. With a narrator who possesses a creative and confident point of view, and whose prose is breezy enough to blow off Andy Warhol’s toupee, this over-the-top novel of self-discovery rarely bores. Irvine can sometimes confuse volubility with wit, yet the verbal overkill often succeeds as Hal’s observations compellingly depict the depth and breadth of his hero worship: “In his way, Ric was like a movie,” Hal says. “His cyan eyes were the marquee to a soul wherein lived all the heavyweights: Action, Adventure, Romance, Mystery, Comedy!” Who wouldn’t want a ticket to the show?

An intriguing, multifaceted read highlighted by an alluring lead and his loquacious sidekick.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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