One man, two lives. Duberstein (The Twoweeks, 2012, etc.) creates a powerful story of humanity and inhumanity in this tale...

FIVE BULLETS

A character study built around an appalling historical period and a testimony to the strength of the wounded spirit’s ability to endure and live a meaningful, if not entirely happy, life.

In the summer of 1936, Karel Bondy and his wife—Czechoslovakian Jews raising three young children in Prague—are happy and free. But their idyllic life is forever changed in 1943, when the Nazis sweep in and “relocate” the family to a holding camp in Terezin, and from there, the dreaded train takes them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Men are separated from women and children, and this is the last time Karel sees his family. We experience the horrors of Auschwitz through Karel’s eyes and come to understand that some experiences are worse than death. Karel and a few others attempt escape and miraculously find themselves outside the camp. Survival instinct rules, and not everyone makes it, but Karel manages to live. Later, he resumes his life as Carl Barry in the United States, only to find the country surprisingly “forgetful” just seven years after the death of Hitler: “Seven years is not even time enough to go gray or get fat. Certainly not to forget.” Duberstein alternates between Karel’s life in Europe and Carl’s in America, taking readers to the year 2000, when for a dying Carl, past and present begin to merge in a sensitive ending. Through it all, Duberstein treats readers to Karel’s introspective, intelligent and ironic view on all that comes to pass. He’s a memorable, complex character.

One man, two lives. Duberstein (The Twoweeks, 2012, etc.) creates a powerful story of humanity and inhumanity in this tale of war, survival and healing.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-25508-7

Page Count: 215

Publisher: Brimstone Corner Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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