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THE BLOODY RED BARON

Vampire-battle aces let slip the bats of war in this superior sequel to Anno-Dracula (1993), itself a benchmark for vampire fiction. This time out, Newman moves ahead 30 years to focus on the European air war and stalemate in 1918. Driven from England, Graf von Dracula rises to commander-in-chief of the armies of Germany and Austria-Hungary, fathers a species of German vampire aristocrats, and becomes ringmaster of Baron Manfred von Richthofen's Flying Circus, a group of night-flying vampire aces. Strange experiments involving the Red Baron take place at Chateau du Malinbois, and the British vampire squadron, Cundall's Condors, must discover just what the Germans are up to. Meanwhile, it's a weird bunch of doctors who experiment on the superpowerful batmen—H.G. Wells's vivisectionist Dr. Moreau, filmdom's nutty Dr. Caligari, and Professor Ten Brincken—and who convert the shape-shifters into living airplanes with 30-foot batwingspreads. Writing the life of the Baron is Edgar Allan Poe, who was himself turned into a vampire by his child bride, Virginia, and once suffered premature burial when found "dead'' in Baltimore. The Diogenes Club, England's Star Chamber led by Mycroft Holmes, sends Lt. Edwin Winthrop to gather intelligence with Cundall's Condors, and Winthrop finds himself falling for 50-year-old undead journalist Kate Reed. Among the attractions here are gripping battlefield scenes and dogfights; vast physiological detail about vampire breeds and bloodlines (vampires drink moonlight for strength); savagely intimate, even alluring descriptions of bloodlust; the ripping gallows humor of the British vampire aces; and memory-jogging walk-ons—including Jiggs from Faulkner's Pylon, Allard from The Shadow, Jules and Jim, Jake Barnes, Clifford Chatterley, Dr. Arrowsmith, Jed Leland from Citizen Kane, Bruno Satchel from The Blue Max, Mata Hari, Lola-Lola from The Blue Angel, and Cigarette from Under Two Flags. Superbly researched mud-and-blood: Newman's rich novel rises above genre, though delighted bat-readers will still cry, "Fangs for the memory!''

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1995

ISBN: 978-0671854515

Page Count: 358

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1995

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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