A twisty, emotionally rich drama.


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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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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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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