BROOKLYN BRIDGE

First published in 1987 in France, Kaplan's drifting, pointillistic attempt to evoke four New Yorkers' existential angst may strike American readers as more comic than elucidating with its quasi-meaningful juxtaposition of ghetto blasters with abrupt, inexplicable sexual battles among white people. Translated by a French psychologist and novelist impressed with its ``subliminal violence and disturbing beauty,'' this paper-bound film noir is unlikely to inspire a fan club here. They met in Central Park one Sunday: Julien, a handsome rogue with a mysterious past; Anna, a sensible single woman with a job at a school; Mary, a boutique saleswoman and young mother; and Chico, a passionate Latin American waiter. What connects them from their first meeting is their fascination with Mary's young daughter, Nathalie—a generic character whose youth, rather than any innate personality, serves to unleash the adults' own deepest fears and hopes suppressed since childhood. The four adults pair off—Anna with Julien, Chico with Mary—and spend several fragmented, sporadically tortured New York seasons together, sharing parties and breakfasts and trying to ignore Julien's increasingly unhealthy love for Nathalie. ``Do you know the Brooklyn Bridge?'' Julien continuously demands of Nathalie and the others. ``On this bridge...you see the sea and the city and it gives you a fabulous impression. The world, the world is a cathedral.'' The statement is supposed to mean something—but Julien's friends fail to heed the message, caught up as they are with such obsessions as Mary's: ``You feel it, at that very moment,'' Mary says of her daughter, ``...she's completely calm, on her back, she's waiting, you can feel it, she's waiting for something from you, she's eagerly waiting and, at the same time she's giving to you, as well, without saying anything, she would like to give to you.'' French postmodernism and the Brooklyn Bridge? Something was lost in translation.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 1993

ISBN: 0-88268-112-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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