The comedy occasionally runs broad and bawdy and the references feel a bit forced (a disastrous Liz Phair concert; an...

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RAISING APHRODITE

This comic novel traces the misadventures of a single dad and his teenage daughter as they navigate adolescent and middle-aged angst to the soundtrack of Alabama punk rock.

Vance Seagrove prides himself on being the cool dad. He's raised Chloe since her mother, Deb, moved to New York to act, finishing his Ph.D. in theater with Chloe in a baby swing. For the past 10 years, he's worked as personal assistant to Storm Willoughby, the richest man in town, and now, at his death, Storm has willed Vance a controlling stake in Macon Place, Storm's mansion, the grounds of which are a garden of Greco-Roman statuary. Storm's son, Mike, wants the place sold, but Vance wants to turn it into an arts center. If that isn't enough to worry about, Vance finds a used condom wrapper in Chloe's bedroom and becomes obsessed with reining in his 16-year-old daughter, relinquishing his "cool dad" title. Like so many protagonists, Vance confides in his gay best friend, Campbell, though she has problems of her own: she has to convince her ex-husband she's not a lesbian so he doesn't demand custody of their son. Campbell's father, Luther, is a renowned music producer now making a record for Sadie, Vance's heavily tattooed, pot-smoking 23-year-old girlfriend (see, he is cool!). Chloe is furious her father has become so unreasonable, though she tries to ignore him and get on with her teenage life: writing songs, starting a support website for a persecuted Balkans band (akin to Pussy Riot), and figuring out her relationship with Deb, who has decided to move back to Alabama and share custody with Vance.

The comedy occasionally runs broad and bawdy and the references feel a bit forced (a disastrous Liz Phair concert; an extended conversation about Andrea Dworkin's Intercourse), but Curnutt throws in enough fragile humanity to make Vance and Chloe's mutual journey to adulthood worthwhile.

Pub Date: July 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-57966-104-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: River City Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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