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THE THROWAWAYS

A twisty, emotionally rich drama.

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Four men find their identities, ethics, and friendships tested in this high-stakes thriller.  

George has finally stopped feeling like a nobody. When he’s accepted to the University of Kansas Law School Class of 1989, he jubilantly calls his parents—only to be reminded that they still see him as a shadow of his older brothers—athletic and academic superstars, twins who died tragically at the age of 22. Despondent, George heads to the local liquor store and runs into a sorority girl named Stacia, who flirtatiously cajoles him into giving her a ride and taking a shot of absinthe. The next thing George knows, he’s disoriented and covered in blood. His back seat is strewn with a gas can and a bloody knife, and the house Stacia entered has been blown up. His only coherent thought is to stash the incriminating car back in his hometown of Niobe, Kansas. But he didn’t plan on running into his three closest childhood friends: Curt, a sensitive artist who has broken his family’s tradition of farming; Bill, a physics professor dealing with major marriage and debt issues from his cocaine addiction; and Travis, a hardworking security guard who has always dreamed of becoming a cop. They’ve all felt abandoned by George, but the ensuing days of chaos and crisis will test their loyalty beyond what they could’ve imagined. Hawker (End of the Road, 2017, etc.) expertly balances external and internal drama, gradually fleshing out these men’s lives against the backdrop of an ever expanding criminal conspiracy. Upon first meeting Curt, Bill, and Travis, there’s very little to differentiate them, but as the story progresses, they each become memorable, with the portrayal of Bill’s addiction a particular standout. The plot trots along with plenty of satisfying revelations, and George’s character development remains intriguing right to the end. He claims that throughout his life, others’ “disappointment was like a physical presence,” following and “scowling” at him—but the thought of disappointing the friends who mean the most to him in these critical moments could finally spur the personal change he’s been seeking.

A twisty, emotionally rich drama.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-890391-09-6

Page Count: 382

Publisher: Vanishing Point Press Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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