A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely complicated.

In the Mind of Revenge

From the The Shamed series , Vol. 1

A debut thriller tells the story of Shame, who survives a savage beating with a scarred, physically stronger body and a new mindset to seek justice for all who are persecuted.

School life for Shame, whose birth name is never revealed, was abominable. Peers’ baseless animosity and relentless torment seem derived from Shame’s androgyny. When Shame embraces the students’ epithet, The Shamed, by spray-painting it on a jacket, the resultant pummeling and mutilation leave the protagonist near death. Awakening from a coma two years later, the now-adult is heavily scarred and, as an unwitting guinea pig in experimental surgery, has most bones fused with a “special metal.” Though asserting an unemotional state, Shame heads to Baltimore to find Cassidy “Cassie” Peterson, an old friend and possible love in rehab at the time of Shame’s attack. Chance sightings of two of Shame’s assailants, however, open the door for retribution and torture. Shame even murders someone to avoid identification, and the trip to see Cassie eventually turns into evasion, especially with feds investigating those tortures. Shame makes a few friends but mostly encounters degenerates, the worst of the bunch turning out to be gangsters who think Shame killed one of their own. Finding Cassie and working up the courage to approach her takes a back seat when the thugs kidnap someone Shame’s just maybe grown to care about. Though Shame’s first-person perspective assumes reader sympathy is a certainty, some may not empathize so easily. The initial murder isn’t justified like the assailants’ comeuppance, and a few good people, by mere association, get the brunt of Shame’s intermingling with violent people. The protagonist, however, is fascinating, metal-infused bones putting Shame on the same level as bigger foes. Similarly, gender in the story is rightly meaningless when it comes to defining a person, even if nearly every male character is repulsive. The plot, at times, hits a standstill, readers essentially waiting as Shame decides when finally to reunite with Cassie. Nevertheless, Shame, who develops an attachment or two, is markedly less cold as the story progresses, while an implication of psychological illness—hearing voices of the dead—opens avenues of story possibilities. The cliffhanger ending is nothing short of electric.

A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely complicated.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-578-16606-3

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Dreams Into Reality Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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