Modernist, random sci-fi weirdness seemingly beamed in from the James Joyce/William S. Burroughs/Last Words of Dutch Schultz...

FROM THE YEAR INFINITY

A godlike being who is an interplanetary Earth ambassador and a time traveler recalls his manifold adventures saving the cosmos in this debut novel.

At age 4, the supernatural entity named Lewis must take on human mentality and winds up working in a Connecticut office. Even so, his impressive IQ (described as the fourth highest ever) draws the attention of the U.S. Navy and Colin Powell. Lewis not only serves in the Navy, but is also appointed an Earth representative for the United Planetary Federation, even though assassinations disrupt the meetings—and in the remote future (or past), civilizations rise and fall and threats are fought (or will be). Because Lewis marked his apotheosis by time-traveling to infinity, the fabric of reality has started to come undone. In fixing it, he meets Father Time (who really exists). Lewis embarks on epic exploits in his seven other immortal lifetimes. Viewers of TV’s Doctor Who may enjoy the way Feinland, a poet, manages to make this highly experimental piece bigger on the inside than the outside—just like the time machine/spacecraft TARDIS. In a slim 109 pages, he info-dumps terabytes of sci-fi jargon; alphanumerics and acronyms; author references/genre shoutouts (John Scalzi); invented words (“cataclypse”); poetry; complex, technical manual-style instructions; and metaphysical musings. It’s the epistle of a sort of god or demigod who, while born on Earth, is actually of Olympus lineage (though Jesus crosses his path, as do the devil, Buddha, and Sitting Bull). When the narrator speaks of seeing psychiatrists and getting a regimen of psychotropics, it begs the question of whether to interpret any of this literally or as the artfully described schizoid ravings of a lunatic savant off his meds: “From my office which was my enterprise, bridge command; sort from my helm..Or was enterprise is now plastic and the universally Messianic deed be done. Paradise lost be found, it’s heavenly response. Kingdom come and the last eternal link be round, that link being physically the mild core (plutonium 181) but not energy.”

Modernist, random sci-fi weirdness seemingly beamed in from the James Joyce/William S. Burroughs/Last Words of Dutch Schultz outer-asteroid field.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4327-9677-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Outskirts

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2018

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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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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