Sawicki tenders hundreds of sudden, short atmospherics on the subject of lips and smiles.

Even Frank Sinatra would be hard put to rival Sawicki when it comes to thoughts on lips and all they speak of. What he offers here is a company of quick reflections—spontaneous-seeming, like brief poems—on lips and smiles and their many moods. He won’t be tied down to any one perspective; he’s all over the lower-facial map. Each musing is spare, but while some are light on their worldly feet, others are freighted with emotional baggage, little islands of attitude. Some of the headings feel a bit too Halmark-y: “Life Is Better When Your Smile Is At Your Best” or “The Only Difference Between A Smile And A Frown Is In The Way Your Heart Speaks.” The better material gives you something to chew on. They may be the haikulike utterances: “Black magic is when a smile becomes the ghost of lips,” or “Disoriented lips liberated an emerging gale of abandoned hallucinating smiles.” Others are runic: “Quivering lips lingered smiling over juicy morsels before scurrying the bits onto a sprung up wildly lashing tongue,” or “A smile that denounces its lips bears a darker shadow than three moons orbiting over a black forest.” Some have a bebop syncopation: “All a smile has to do is grab some lips with invisible jazz and go for broke,” or “Smiles act polite, consent to an encounter, kidnap lips, and watch out because dumb love will get you busted.” Some are bitter or smoky, some make strange leaps or dabble in the alchemy of a moue, others reach for the cosmic: “Bubbling smile crooned the prettiest song ever heard through pink petal lips gentler than a whispering choir of treasured angels.” There is also bitterness and anger, hellfire and brimstone: “Lips so numb with false smiles preached by a red-eyed devil on judgement Sunday.” [sic] Fleet grazings upon the mouth, by turns cerebral, then sensuous.


Pub Date: March 1, 2012


Page Count: 28

Publisher: Lester J. Sawicki DDS

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2012

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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