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GLIMPSES

Can the 60's cure the 90's? That's what Texas stereo repairman Ray Shackleford struggles to prove in this strenuous fantasy of rock- and-roll hits that never were. Shortly after his unloving father drowns in Cozumel, Ray starts to imagine he's hearing impossible songtracks that he's able to record directly from his head. He takes his tape of the Beatles' never- recorded hit ``The Long and Winding Road'' to L.A. producer Graham Hudson, who's already remastered three volumes of Glimpses from rock's legendary past, and Graham persuades him to go after bigger game. So Ray travels back in time, changing history enough so that Jim Morrison can record Celebration of the Lizard and Brian Wilson can persist in his breakthrough album Smile. There's money to be made here, of course, but what Ray and Graham really want is to save the world by recalling the aging rock audience to its ardent roots. (Maybe a little too ardent, as when Ray wonders, ``Was it that way for everybody, music and sex and politics and love all inextricably part of each other, or is it just me?'') Trying to come to terms with his hated father's death, Ray takes time out to retrace his steps in Cozumel, attempting to re-create his own experience of the 60's more directly in 1989, but his romance with a diving instructor seems to open wide the rift in his ten-year marriage without giving him a satisfactory alternative, and he ends up repeating his father's experience instead of accepting it. So it's back to the past for one last try—with a Jimi Hendrix album that Ray hopes can keep the 60's from ending. As you'd expect from versatile fantasist Shiner (Slam, 1990, etc.), Ray's attempts to keep the faith by resurrecting Jimi and laying his own father to rest are powerfully affecting. Much more than yuppie reunions like The Big Chill, this captures a generation's sweet, desperate yearning for the 60's—though it ends up as authentically woolly as the period.

Pub Date: July 19, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-12411-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE RUMOR

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Hilderbrand’s latest cautionary tale exposes the toxic—and hilarious—impact of gossip on even the most sophisticated of islands.

Eddie and Grace Pancik are known for their beautiful Nantucket home and grounds, financed with the profits from Eddie’s thriving real estate company (thriving before the crash of 2008, that is). Grace raises pedigreed hens and, with the help of hunky landscape architect Benton Coe, has achieved a lush paradise of fowl-friendly foliage. The Panciks’ teenage girls, Allegra and Hope, suffer invidious comparisons of their looks and sex appeal, although they're identical twins. The Panciks’ friends the Llewellyns (Madeline, a blocked novelist, and her airline-pilot husband, Trevor) invested $50,000, the lion’s share of Madeline’s last advance, in Eddie’s latest development. But Madeline, hard-pressed to come up with catalog copy, much less a new novel, is living in increasingly straightened circumstances, at least by Nantucket standards: she can only afford $2,000 per month on the apartment she rents in desperate hope that “a room of her own” will prime the creative pump. Construction on Eddie’s spec houses has stalled, thanks to the aforementioned crash. Grace, who has been nursing a crush on Benton for some time, gives in and a torrid affair ensues, which she ill-advisedly confides to Madeline after too many glasses of Screaming Eagle. With her agent and publisher dropping dire hints about clawing back her advance and Eddie “temporarily” unable to return the 50K, what’s a writer to do but to appropriate Grace’s adultery as fictional fodder? When Eddie is seen entering her apartment (to ask why she rented from a rival realtor), rumors spread about him and Madeline, and after the rival realtor sneaks a look at Madeline’s rough draft (which New York is hotly anticipating as “the Playboy Channel meets HGTV”), the island threatens to implode with prurient snark. No one is spared, not even Hilderbrand herself, “that other Nantucket novelist,” nor this magazine, “the notoriously cranky Kirkus.”

Once again, Hilderbrand displays her gift for making us care most about her least likable characters.

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33452-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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