Swedish writer Gustafsson (Bernard Foy's Third Castling, 1988, etc.) here displays his Beckettian wares in a slender tale about a day in the life of a hard-working melancholic tiler. Torsteen Bergman, at 65, lives in Upsala, Sweden. He is called to a suburban villa for some work, and he works furiously—but by the end of the story, he is suppressing ``the realization that he had worked meaninglessly all day long at the wrong address.'' In between, Gustafsson milks many of the metaphoric possibilities of such a fable, occasionally with dark wit and an original philosophical bent. Bergman's mood changes from episode to episode: sometimes ``The world was all around him, and nothing in that world was really his''; at other times, he ``had the feeling of being a fairly contented fly moving up a wall.'' He works, reminisces, and daydreams, wondering about Sophie K., the tenant of an upstairs flat in the building in which he works, or conversing with fellow worker Stiggsy, or chasing after lost soul Seija (``She too was someone who had learned the rules''). Such moments make up for the lack of real plot. Here, for example, Bergman listens to the wireless: ``The wireless was a sort of counter-balance to the spiritual stuff that Mother went in for, the Evangelical Society and revivalist meetings and auctioning parcels for the chapel.'' The novel is sprinkled with enough such tidbits to make it an effectively bittersweet elegy. If it's not the dazzling chess game that Gustafsson has sometimes pulled off in the past, it's at least an appetizer with some real philosophical meat between the covers.

Pub Date: June 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-8112-1240-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: New Directions

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet