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I'LL BE RIGHT THERE

Shin's uncomplicated yet allusive narrative voice delivers another calmly affecting story, simultaneously foreign and...

Tender and mournful, the latest novel from best-selling South Korean novelist Shin (Please Look after Mom, 2011) considers young love and loss in an era of political ferment.

Eight years after a transformative if tragedy-clouded romance, two intimate friends reconnect by phone with news of the illness of a college professor whose classes helped unite them. Shin then quickly spools back to that earlier period, the university days of Jung Yoonwho has had a year’s leave of absence, mourning her mother's death—and Yi Myungsuh, a politically active student taking part in the many demonstrations disrupting life in Seoul in the 1980s. The attraction between the two is influenced by Yi Myungsuh's friendship with Miru, a young woman whose scarred hands are terrible living reminders of a missing sister and her “disappeared” boyfriend. Narrated partly by Jung Yoon, partly in other characters’ letters and diaries, the story combines philosophy and youthful idealism, innocence and brutal experience, all delivered in Shin's understated prose. Although a story of specific relationships, the novel reaches toward larger resonances, touching on shared impulses and universal injustices, underscoring them with references to world literature. Above all, the book celebrates human love and friendship, touchstones during dark, divided times.

Shin's uncomplicated yet allusive narrative voice delivers another calmly affecting story, simultaneously foreign and familiar.

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59051-673-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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