Likable characters, wry dialogue, and a bittersweet sense of time passing and opportunities lost are the engaging features of this amiable follow-up (and the conclusion of a trilogy) to McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show (1966) and Texasville (1987). Once again, the story’s set in and around the west Texas town of Thalia, where former high-school football hero and wealthy oilman Duane Moore is enduring, at the age of 62, a late midlife crisis. Forty years of marriage to his beloved, exasperating Karla and a houseful of itinerant dysfunctional adult children and their smart-mouthed progeny have taken their toll: inexplicably one day, Duane abandons his pickup truck and begins a regimen of long, meditative walks (raising family speculations about his fidelity and sanity), and, in unconscious emulation of Thoreau, moves to a cabin conveniently distant from family obligations and pressures (“He had stepped out of the flow of ongoingness”). With one dramatic exception, little happens—other than Duane’s bemused scrutiny of his own “depression,” and encounters with such agreeably deranged friends and neighbors as his self-destructive employee Bobby Lee, nearsighted secretary Ruth Popper (Picture Show’s unlikely femme fatale), and storekeeper Jody Carmichael, WWII veteran and “compulsive sports gambler.” Duane does gather enough energy to rent the bridal suite at a deliciously seedy motel while undergoing psychotherapy with Jody’s daughter, Dr. Honor Carmichael, with whom he falls absurdly in love, leading to a yearlong struggle reading Proust and some climactic self-discoveries that don’t surprise either Duane or us, but do precipitate a highly satisfying ending that reconciles him with Karla and enables Duane to finally indulge the pleasures he has long denied himself. There’s a scarcity of story here, but McMurtry obviously enjoys these folks so much he can’t resist hanging out with them for 400-plus pages. You probably won’t be able to either.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-85497-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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