A delicately rendered homage to Native American storytelling.

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TALI NOHKATI

THE GREAT CROSSING

Belleli (Contes de la Lune, 2005, etc.) tells the story of a continent-crossing hero in this mythology-infused children’s novel.

Tali Nohkati is the child of the first man and first woman, watched over by Moon and Coyote, the two primordial beings who created the world. After a great fire kills Tali Nohkati’s parents and renders the land barren and dead, the Moon and Coyote are forced to send the boy on a journey to find a new home in the lands beyond the horizon. He first goes to the White Land of ice and snow, where the polar bear Yupik teaches him to hunt. When winter comes, he builds a boat and follows the whale Atii south to warmer climes. Along the way, Atii helps him fish, and when a storm destroys his skiff, the whale allows him to ride in her throat. After further adventures in forests, plains, and deserts among wolves, bison, and snakes, respectively, Tali Nohkati finally reaches the Land of the Red Earth, where he finds his fellow men. Rakenika, a man who wears an eagle feather in his hair, adopts the boy into his tribe and teaches him the ways of the Great Hunt. The world of men is even more complex than that of animals, however, and Tali Nohkati will have to weather a host of dangers—both human and superhuman—before he’ll find peace. Belleli, as translated from the French by debut translator Heller, tells the story in the simple but often lyrical prose style of a folktale, as in this passage, in which injured bison Atsina entreats the boy to make use of his body: “ ‘But who talks of leaving me?’ the bison said reassuringly, in a last effort. ‘You will take me with you. You will eat my meat, and I will give you my strength. You will tan my skin, and I will shelter your nights.’ ” The novel appears to borrow bits of mythology from across the Americas, from the Eskimo-Aleut names of the polar bears to an appearance by the monstrous Huracan of the ancient Mayans. Often allegorical and always magical, the book manages to feel simultaneously ancient and contemporary.

A delicately rendered homage to Native American storytelling.

Pub Date: May 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68433-258-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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