A wickedly funny send-up of the sexual revolution and its discontents.




Lonely, single men search for love in the 1980s in this hilarious battle narrative from the war between the sexes.

Ronald Reagan has just been elected president, John Lennon has just been shot and 35-year-old Ray Powell has just been dumped by fickle hippie goddess Lana in a definitive finale to the sexual golden age of the countercultural '70s. Seeking a fresh start, he moves from the college-town Shangri-la of Crystal City to nearby Toledo, Ohio, to teach high school and find another woman. Alas, Ray, who prides himself on his male feminism, is at sea in a new sexual ethos that values assertiveness and earning power over sensitivity. He finds nothing but cynicism and tawdry hookups in the circle of hell that is the Toledo singles' scene, and the few women he connects with–such as Judy, a 17-year-old student with whom he strikes up an awkward romance–prove resoundingly inappropriate. Tragically, he gets plenty of advice from his bachelor buddies: Scott, an eternal student with a yen for tall, domineering women; Frank, a newly celibate ladies' man who now considers sex a "holocaust"; and the permanently lovelorn Bert, whose idea of a smooth come-on is to surprise his inamorata by removing his clothes and draping a towel over his face. When all else fails, the Zen bromides he gleans from Kung Fu reruns–"Male and female are like coal and flame"–guide his steps. Durstin writes in a wonderfully observant prose that's sardonic and sympathetic, with a perfect ear for the cultural obsessions of the early Reagan era. He frames Ray's story as a mythic "journey" that affords the author a sly parody of the Men’s Movement. As they respond to a chaos of mixed messages in a profoundly confused age, his characters' delusions–and their fumbling, convoluted pickup maneuvers–are as poignant as they are uproarious.

A wickedly funny send-up of the sexual revolution and its discontents.

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-578-04925-0

Page Count: 249

Publisher: LD Media

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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