While some details prove tedious, this book offers an inventive adventure in Las Vegas.

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A DAY'S WORTH OF ENTERTAINMENT

A woman’s fictionalized memoir focuses on love and money.

Debut author Lei explains that she has created a “fictional autobiography”: a work that portrays her past experiences as well as her “deepest fantasies.” This series opener begins in a small town in Missouri. The narrator, Kimmei, left California with her young daughter and two best friends. The reason for the move? She wanted to start anew after the past six years of “turmoil.” That turbulence included a custody battle, a criminal court case, and a love triangle of sorts involving two men, one of whom is referred to as “Bastardick.” But as intriguing as these topics are, the narrative soon shifts back to 2011. Kimmei explains her time working in finance in Las Vegas and it is here where the bulk of the action takes place. There are reflections on past business dealings, Alt-A mortgages, and cryptocurrency. Woven into the mix are memories of her mother’s journey out of Cambodia as well as references that range from business thinkers like James Altucher to the cartoon characters Ren & Stimpy. There is also the looming presence of a romantic interest called “the Italian Devil.” The narrative covers a lot of ground, though the subjects are of varying interest. Neither the narrator’s attendance at a financial conference nor the details of her office make for spellbinding copy. For instance, need readers know that, upon entering Kimmei’s old workplace, her “desk was on the right side of the room, enclosed in three walls”? A greater appeal comes in the form of the various riffs on assets like Bitcoin and quant funds. Discussing the latter, the book notes that “trading strategies are closely guarded secrets” and are out of reach of average investors. These blips of financial insights, combined with harrowing tales of the Cambodian jungle and the sexual antics of the Italian Devil, help to build an original tale. While the sexual tension may be muted thanks to generic terms like “passionate kisses,” readers will likely be curious to know how Kimmei went from her Devil in the desert to a family of women in Missouri.        

While some details prove tedious, this book offers an inventive adventure in Las Vegas.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-72710-334-2

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2019

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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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