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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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