A collection that delivers a strange and ultimately satisfying ride.

RUNNING WILD NOVELLA ANTHOLOGY

VOLUME 3, BOOK 2

This free-wheeling anthology offers a variety of characters, settings, and genres.

At first glance, the novellas in Book 2 of this third installment of a series seem disparate enough to be deemed eclectic. The six range in length and tone. The collection—edited by Lockwood (Frontal Matter, 2019, etc.) and Kastner (Running Wild Novella Anthology: Volume 3, Book 1, 2019, etc.)—opens with Circuits End by Rasmenia Massoud. The story focuses on a tough-talking painter working a dead-end job at a Colorado circuit factory, trying to make her way in life after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend. Then, readers take a sharp turn into the fantastical with an eerie fairy tale called Doctor Porchiat’s Dream by Frankie Rollins that follows the adventures of a quirky physician in a superstitious town as he chases scientific proof of the soul. That spell is quickly broken by the cutting-edge modernity of Kastner’s Newly Minted Wings: Craig’s List Nikky, which follows a PR maven called Nicole (nicknamed Nikky) who resurrects the careers of desperate Craigslist posters with extravagant stunts. She must reassess her life once her wealthy parents cut her off and she gets the chance to work with one of her idols. Nicole’s privileged world is quickly replaced by the tender contemplation of Kenneth Holt’s The Cups That Hold, about the unlikely connection forged between a black groundskeeper and his white teenage charge during a summer job in 1977. After that, readers must contend with Patrick Breheny’s Like a Human, a futuristic trip featuring a robot called Howie. He believes he can ingratiate himself with humans enough to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle and one day conquer the world. The energetic collection closes with Ace Boggess’ Somewhat Misunderstood, a satirical, biting thought exercise that considers how readers would respond to the seeming reemergence of Jesus. Taken together, what connects these mostly engaging stories are a sympathy and humor for life’s outcasts—from a down-on-his-luck kid in the ’70s to an overly ambitious robot in the near future. While some of the tales, like Doctor Porchiat’s Dream, make full use of the novella form by deftly exploring the perspectives of various characters, others, such as Newly Minted Wings, feel half formed. Wings ends on a cliffhanger after six chapters of minor character development. Still, the anthology is always entertaining and lives up to its title.

A collection that delivers a strange and ultimately satisfying ride.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947041-40-0

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Running Wild Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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 strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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