A potent novel about one man’s search for identity in Hollywood.

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A LIVELY TALE OF '70S EURO HOLLYWOOD

An entertainment lawyer’s movie-business venture takes an unpleasant turn that could land him in prison in McInerny’s (Bond Hunter, 2012) novel.

In 1979, New York City attorney Maxwell Rider moves to Los Angeles, inspired by his friend Irving Fain’s recent investment in a low-budget film. Irving brings Max in on his latest idea: Filmland Credit, effectively a bank that loans productions a small percentage of a film’s budget, while the bulk is covered by investor partnerships. It sounds good to Max, who’s already a producer on a remake of Italian filmmaker Alex des Prairies’ commercial hit, Danse du Sang, aimed at American audiences. As Filmland rounds up investors, Max meets twins Winton and Susie Grass, minority shareholders in a family-owned gold mine in Bakersfield, California. They tell Max that they want an investment from Filmland to secure control of the mine. Max, distracted by Susie’s beauty, wants to find a way to help; meanwhile, Alex nearly uses up his $2 million Filmland credit line. Things eventually go wrong, and federal agents armed with handcuffs come for Irving and Max. Meanwhile, Alex, charged with fraud, among other things, sets about trying to get out of his financial hole—without digging himself further in. The story’s emphasis on white-collar crime, in lieu of murder, gives it an old-Hollywood feel, as a perpetual fear of betrayal replaces potential violence. McInerny effectively highlights the vibrant California atmosphere (such as a Pasadena garden of “waxy magnolias and draping bougainvillea”) and avoids harsh language in clever ways, as when a character shouts a Belgian-accented “Fock you!” Max is pure dynamism as a character struggling with being an outsider: an American, with European parents, torn between Hollywood and his family in Santa Monica—estranged wife Mona and young daughter Lainie. The characters’ patter is sometimes heavy with financial jargon, but McInerny’s tale remains easy to follow and engaging throughout; it’s always abundantly clear, for example, when Filmland’s losing money and who’s likely responsible.

A potent novel about one man’s search for identity in Hollywood.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9847294-2-5

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Size Four Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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