A tale of multiple marriages that lacks strong characters.

A Search for Love

In this debut erotic novel, a radio and TV personality looks back on his seven-wife search for love and great sex.

Life is sweet for 28-year-old Matt Matthews; in 1980, he’s “the number one disc jockey in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,” and enjoys plenty of sex with beautiful women. It helps that he gets his dates drunk first, to lower their inhibitions. Plus, he avers, “It’s amazing what some women will believe” when you lie to them. Wife No. 1 is Debra, not only gorgeous, but “she might be an asset to my career. In addition, I’ll finally get between her legs,” he thinks. They have an “ethnic” wedding and honeymoon in the Poconos, beginning a tradition for Matt—he brings every new bride back to the same suite and bed. Why so many weddings? “I fall in love. I want to do the right thing,” says Matt, yet he also believes: “It’s only some words” and a “piece of paper.” In what also becomes a tradition, Matt and wife are soon divorced. Reasons over the course of many failed marriages include infidelity, disappointed expectations, and lies. Matt’s career grows; he hosts radio and TV talk shows in New York City, buys a West Side penthouse, and writes his autobiography. He marries wife No. 6, Dianne, so they can enjoy conjugal visits when she’s in prison for operating a Ponzi scheme, having first set aside an offshore account for them both. Dianne flees the country after her release. While Matt’s skills in bed seldom fail to supply multiple orgasms, the book’s many erotic scenes don’t have much sexual heat: “She was secreting and it was dripping down on my body…she moved [my penis] slowly into her oral cavity,” for example. The author seems to intend this as a comic novel of misadventure that leads to true love, but many readers will likely find it difficult to root for the shallow characters: does a married man concerned about doing the right thing get a vasectomy on the sly? And that offshore account signifies misfortune for those investors Dianne scammed. After a brief seventh marriage (to the mother of wife No. 5), Matt discovers one of his former spouses in Costa Rica. Will he finally find happiness? In the end, this obvious wish-fulfillment fantasy delivers little satisfaction. 

A tale of multiple marriages that lacks strong characters.

Pub Date: June 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-68146-144-1

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Start Romance

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...

HOME FRONT

 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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