An economics tale that teaches many intriguing lessons in an entertaining, often violent way.

THE ECONOMICS MUSE II

THE INVISIBLE HAND

A sequel focuses on an immortal figure behind economics.

This installment of Blanco’s (The Economics Muse I, 2017) supernatural yet educational series picks up in 17th-century Ireland. A surveyor named William Petty is busy measuring land when he comes across a curious woman. Petty soon learns this is no ordinary mortal but rather the sassy and savvy muse behind economic thought. Throughout human history, she has sought to aid thinkers in the art of the dismal science. She soon helps Petty understand concepts like the division of labor, though she has much more to do. She may venture through the horrors of the French Revolution and the East India Company yet her main focus in this volume is on Adam Smith. The man behind The Wealth of Nations, it turns out, got some help from a figure from ancient Greece. But not all who meet the muse are quite so lucky. Enter deadly creatures called Venusians. The Venusians, who appear as beautiful women, love to drink blood. They also really, really hate economists and the muse who inspires them. Will the muse be able to help humans understand their world while simultaneously fighting off merciless killers? The answer to that question plays out over pages of history that are painted with blood both real (the many victims of the guillotine) and imagined (humans unlucky enough to be targeted by the Venusians). The combination makes for quite a mix of the informative and the fantastical. Few who devour the book in its entirety will not learn something. For instance, most readers have some familiarity with the French Revolution but the narrative skillfully points out, in a digestible way, the many economic factors that led to the infamous upheaval. On the fantastical side, things can get somewhat overcomplicated. A large subplot involves Venusians having children with humans (hence creating hybrid offspring) and what the future holds for these kids. While such scenes amount to a break from, say, the finer points of opportunity cost, they are not quite as riveting as the more realistic horrors of the 18th century. Ultimately, the brutal impact of economics wins the day.

An economics tale that teaches many intriguing lessons in an entertaining, often violent way.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-72977-689-6

Page Count: 484

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 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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