Lost treasures indeed. A second volume is promised as well as other unpublished work to fill the shelves of eager L’Amour...

LOUIS L'AMOUR'S LOST TREASURES

VOLUME 1

A behind-the-scenes look at the unpublished work and unrealized aspirations of an iconic writer of Westerns.

“Far overhead a bird soared. Twice he looked at it, brow puckered.” Louis L’Amour (1908–88), ne LaMoore, wrote millions of words, almost always in simple declarative sentences. Vying only with Zane Grey, he dominated the Western genre; if without the flair of Elmore Leonard, his work was miles above the penny dreadfuls that had preceded him. It will surprise readers who know only his Western writing to learn from this overstuffed volume that L’Amour was interested in other genres, more than dabbling but often not quite committing to them; he tried his hand at the intersection of Westerns and horror but also played with science fiction, historical fiction, even variants of romance and literary fiction, examples of all of which abound in this gathering of provisional work. Often he achieved nicely atmospheric effects that wouldn’t be out of place in Hemingway (“The wind moaned and blew a few leaves across the campsite. Where they had been there was nothing but darkness and the cold”), and just as often he took formulas and breathed fresh life into them. Beau L’Amour, his son and editor, allows that his father was “trapped by his own success” in the Western genre—and by the need to support a family on writing alone, churning out books, magazine pieces, television scripts, and more. But on top of all that work, L’Amour constantly experimented, as this volume shows, making notes for and drafts of adventure, crime, sci-fi, and other kinds of fiction, even an odd exercise in speculative work that spoke to his interest in reincarnation and “the transmutation of souls.” While his son is quick to admit that Pop’s work wasn’t always, well, good, it’s refreshing to know that no matter how successful, L’Amour, his office piled high with books, was always looking to stretch.

Lost treasures indeed. A second volume is promised as well as other unpublished work to fill the shelves of eager L’Amour buffs.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17754-5

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

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CIRCE

A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch.

“Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers.” So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller’s dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus’ crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: “When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: “I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began.” This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that “not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead.” Circe’s fascination with mortals becomes the book’s marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside “the tonic of ordinary things.” A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller’s readership to mushroom like one of Circe’s spells.

Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-55634-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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