Thoroughly charming and sure to enrage the NRA, which is, of course, the point.

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BANG BANG

A sweet Philadelphia waitress takes on the pro-gun set.

Plump Paula Sherman, who waits tables in a modestly swell Center City restaurant when she should be singing professionally, accidentally drifts into the sights of the United Gun Association (UGA), America’s most powerful gun lobby, after her best friend dies in a street shooting. Understandably distraught, Paula blamed the killer rather than the handgun, just what the UGA wanted to hear. To her horror, Paula sees herself quoted out of context by not only Pennsylvania’s pro-gun senator but by the UGA. Her efforts to disclaim the remark and to remove her image from campaign ads and pro-gun advertising are fruitless. But the pro-gun coalition has underestimated the singing waitress. Determined to avenge the death of her friend and to put the lying bastards in their place, Paula finds a way to turn the guns on the gun-lovers, who, she observes, proudly identify themselves by placing UGA stickers on their automobiles. Wouldn’t those stickers make great targets for someone armed with—well, a pistol? Couldn’t Paula be that vigilante? She could indeed, but to be safe on the streets, she needs to whip herself into shape with a program of running, an activity that not only makes it possible to cover a great many streets looking for UGA stickers to shoot with the wee air gun she has bought, but also results in a new svelte figure. Even before her shooting of gun-lovers’ windshields is noticed by the city, it is noted by a neighboring journalist who keeps her secret until he is enlisted in the battle. And the battle catches fire. As Paula first runs and then rollerblades her way through Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, picking off the conspicuous UGA stickers, copy-cats in other cities, outraged by abuse of the Second Amendment, send the same message.

Thoroughly charming and sure to enrage the NRA, which is, of course, the point.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-60164-000-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Künati

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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