A taut, emotional tale that portends an even deeper exploration of this world in the sequel.


A high-stakes thriller focuses on a banker’s painful journey.

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can purchase liquor, prescription drugs, and a Fifth Avenue apartment with a Central Park view. For Harrison Stockton, that’s almost the same thing. But getting fired from his investment banking firm seems like rock bottom, especially when home offers only cold comfort from his kids, Brenton and Gracie, whom he barely knows after years of long nights away, and his wife, Helene, for whom he’s ceased to be good enough. But he quickly finds himself in the hospital with liver disease, one problem he truly can’t buy his way out of. With this setup alone, the novel could have come across as a simple parable, as Harrison gets his just deserts for taking his life of privilege and the wealth of possibilities for happiness for granted until it’s too late. Nevertheless, even in the early sections of the tale, Harrison is surprisingly sympathetic. While his “extracurricular activities” certainly will raise readers’ eyebrows, the vivid portrait here is not of an evil man but one torn between striving for his own advancement and providing for his family until a haze of pain-killing vice takes everything from him. Or almost everything. As part of his severance package, Harrison receives the titular Desire Card, offering “any wish fulfilled for the right price.” When his last hopes dry up and he’s cheated out of a black market liver, the Desire Card is all he has left. But the price for such a request is all too high, and the shadowy cabal behind the Desire Card begins threatening people he cares about. Harrison must make the ultimate choice between everything he could want and the people to whom he owes so much. Goldberg (The Mentor, 2017, etc.) delivers a thoughtful examination of human selfishness in this series opener. The moving story is a modern-day devil’s bargain, twisting and turning through an understandable fight for survival and a more complex view of the morality of a system where anything can be had for a price, a more literal and explicit version of the landscape readers live in each day.

A taut, emotional tale that portends an even deeper exploration of this world in the sequel.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-912526-35-2

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Fahrenheit Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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

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

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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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