A historically valuable, well-written, and unrelentingly bleak read.



A grim, gritty historical novel set in and around Arkansas’ Indian Territory during the last decade of the 19th century.

Gaiter (Whites Shackled Themselves to Race and Blacks Have Yet to Free Ourselves, 2017, etc.) revisits the story of the brutal Rufus Buck Gang—a collection of Native American, mixed heritage, and black teenage boys seeking personal glory and revenge for the mistreatment of Native Americans. The gang has just been captured after two weeks of rape, murder, and torture. The townsfolk of Okmulgee want immediate vengeance, but the boys are taken to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where they will be tried in front of Judge Isaac Parker. Parker will go down in history as “The Hanging Judge,” and this will be his last trial. He is sick and tormented by what he perceives as his failure to “civilize” the territory. He also knows he is partially responsible for enabling a meeting between the young Rufus Buck and Buck’s idol, “Cherokee Bill,” a Native American outlaw sentenced to death. Rufus spent his adolescence reading dime-store novels about Bill’s exploits. The narrative winds its way back and forth, giving some backstory about each of the gang members, with most of the attention devoted to Rufus, the delusional leader. Gaiter adroitly intertwines the personal stories of Rufus and his cohorts with the larger narrative of the cruelty perpetrated against Native Americans. Rufus is scarred by his father’s disillusionment after he watched the Cherokees sell off their land, and their heritage, in exchange for small individual payouts and worthless promises: “To Buck, that was like buying a house and splitting the money evenly between the man, his wife, and each child and telling them all to go their separate ways.” He knew the same would happen to the Creeks. Skillful prose depicts white Americans’ pervasive bigotry and the methodical destruction of Indian sovereignty. Unfortunately, the novel contains not a single likable central protagonist.

A historically valuable, well-written, and unrelentingly bleak read.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-615-49010-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Legba Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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