Bright, brief lives that lead nowhere.



This sleek, punchy, patently sexist and fairly forgettable hip-hop title by K’wan (Hoodlum, 2005, etc.) trails a young woman freshly sprung from jail as she gets entangled back in the Harlem hood.

Evelyn Panelli, a knockout mixture of Italian, black and Irish, emerges from an 18-month jail sentence at age 19 after taking the rap for her so-called friends. Her crew includes Twenty-Gang sister Cassidy, a tall, fetching clotheshorse and trick-turner; Butter, the ruthless new head of the local drug-dealing den and Cassidy’s sometimes lover; and his sweet-faced partner Felon, Eve’s big-brother mentor who showed her the ropes in her youth and never forgot about her in jail. Needing money and connections, Eve is instantly swept back up into the hood’s bad news, where the smooth young stallions call the shots and their slavish women will do anything—“hoeing,” carjacking, robbery—for a little “paper” and “cheese.” Eve wised up during her time in jail: A virgin still, she eschews prostitution and even entertains thoughts of getting educated, and she demonstrates some exemplary humanity by extending kindness to a mentally challenged friend, Beast, who was shot in the head as the result of a gang fight Eve herself started. But the quick action on the street proves a powerful lure, as does a renewed hunger to avenge the horrific murder of her parents, ambushed in their apartment by a white intruder as their young daughter looked on. When Eve finds out that Cassidy was killed by Carlo, son of the Mafia don, who probably had his hand in the death of her parents, her desire for revenge overwhelms her nobler instincts, setting off plenty of vicious bloodshed. An attempt to engender a romance between Felon and Eve fails sadly, as the two characters are not redeemed from or transformed by their murderous acts.

Bright, brief lives that lead nowhere.

Pub Date: March 21, 2006

ISBN: 0-312-33310-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2006

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


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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