Utterly bizarre and completely bewitching, this twisted, delicious tale will grab you from the first page and hurl you over...

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THE PAPER WASP

In this thrilling debut novel, a young woman with big but unfocused ambitions moves to Los Angeles to become the personal assistant to her childhood best friend, a rising Hollywood starlet.

Brilliant Abby never really made it out of her childhood bedroom in Michigan. Her vivid dream life and teenage obsession with the surrealist filmmaker Auguste Perren have pinned her in one place while she grows ever more detached and depressed. "The walls around my dream life leaked," Abby admits, early in the novel. "My night visions were three-dimensional, lavishly detailed scenes, feature-length films." But when Elise Van Dijk, Abby's childhood best friend and a now-famous actress, returns home for their 10-year high school reunion, her near-erotic dreams of reconnection take on the contours of reality. Weeks after the reunion, Abby hops a plane to LA and shows up out of the blue at Elise's gated front door, where she resumes her role as best friend, confidante, and support system. "I was simply there to listen, to groan in sympathy and glow with pride....I loved the sound of your voice. Whatever its petty grievances or vacuous prattle, I would have been happy to hear it forever." Acampora (The Wonder Garden, 2015) writes propulsive sentences at a fever pitch, guiding the reader through Abby's dream world as she hunts for corresponding clues in a reality of her own making. Told in the second person, the novel is by turns a confession, an accusation, and a stalker's diary, yet it is also grounded by Acampora's musings on philosophy, art, and ambition. While there are more novels than ever dedicated to obsessive female friendship, Acampora takes a relationship story that could have been reduced to petty jealousy and turns it into something bigger and weirder, as if David Lynch had astral projected into the work of Melissa Broder. This is the Los Angeles of weird cults and day-drunk stars, of struggling documentary filmmakers and mysterious but powerful directors. By turns demented, sad, and frightening, Abby is a unique heroine making all the wrong choices feel somehow right and just.

Utterly bizarre and completely bewitching, this twisted, delicious tale will grab you from the first page and hurl you over the edge.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2941-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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