A campy, hilarious, fast-paced indulgence that’s addictively entertaining.

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FABULOUS!

AN OPERA BUFFA

An opera-singing drag performer yearns for stardom and gets more than he bargained for in Egan’s (The Outcast Oracle, 2013) novel.

It’s 2009 and Gilbert Eugene Rose, a lanky opera enthusiast, moonlights as drag performer “Kiri De Uwana.” He left an unhappy life in New Jersey for Manhattan 11 years ago, armed with a makeup case, an armful of wigs and costumes, and a dream of operatic stardom. Gilbert, in his mid-30s, is broke and desperate for work. But after psychic Madame Clara foretells future fame for him, he aces an audition for a production of Cosi fan tutte, finds a new love interest named Douglas Pierce, then accepts a tenor role in Rigoletto. Egan’s pacing is expertly brisk as she relates Gilbert’s adventures, bringing in captivating supporting characters, such as Gilbert’s best friend, Gal Friday; his ex-boyfriend William Van Allan (who also has the hots for Douglas); and evil, “pernicious gangsterette” La Donna Gabrielli. As Kiri, Gilbert steals many scenes, showcasing an addictive combination of wicked wit, unfettered confidence, and luxurious femininity. Things do get complicated and very messy for Gilbert, though, with feathers ruffled and feelings hurt along the way. Still, he revels in the busiest, most lucrative time in his career, even as La Donna and her beady-eyed henchman, Tino, come after him, forcing him to don disguises and run for cover. Dynamic, colorful characters add flair to a story full of snappy dialogue and rapid-fire action. The book’s tone is primarily one of effervescent joy, but Egan also manages to incorporate serious themes of personal identity, as when Gilbert reflects that “I dressed and put on the wig and makeup, preferring to be anyone other than Gilbert Eugene Rose, even though I wasn’t completely sure who he was.”

A campy, hilarious, fast-paced indulgence that’s addictively entertaining.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-946501-08-0

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Tiny Fox Press LLC

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2018

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

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.

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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