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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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