An often enjoyable romp, despite some awkward prose.

WINDSWEPT

Sawyer (co-author: Other Arms, Other Eyes, 2016) offers a mystery/thriller set in modern-day New York City, featuring a couple under threat.

Meghan Joyce and Thomas Catherton Lockhart are both at turning points in their lives when they meet by chance. She’s just about given up on finding a decent man in New York; he’s just about given up on his own ability to be a decent man. He’s about to let himself fall off a cruise ship in the harbor when Joyce steps in and stops him; they quickly hit it off, but after a whirlwind year of romance, Lockhart informs Joyce he must break it off with her and never see her again. It turns out that the specific reason that he was going to end it all was because he’d become embroiled in the work of a nefarious multinational criminal named Locke Murdock. While trying to get himself out of the business and possibly make amends, Lockhart finds himself pursued by Murdock’s assassins—one of whom, Randall Yearwood, is a personal friend. Thus begins a chase around New York City, with Joyce sticking by Lockhart’s side; along the way, Joyce involves a man named Gil DeLeo, a shy chef who has a crush on her; and his friend, Barbara Anderson. There are a lot of fun elements in this story as it makes use of different settings around the city. Joyce, Lockhart, and Yearwood are all well-drawn characters; Joyce is shown to crave an escape from her dead-end job, Lockhart reveals a certain fussiness, and Randall is a hit man who never killed anyone whom he didn’t think deserved it. For the most part, this is a charming cat-and-mouse story, and it’s often amusing to watch the chase. However, the dialogue is sometimes clunky, as when Anderson tries to convince DeLeo of tawny-haired Joyce’s dangerousness by saying, “That woman might have a map of Ireland all over her face, but the capital city’s not Dublin, it’s Troublin’.” The descriptions can be overwrought, as when Sawyer says that Murdock’s “eyes harmonized well with his professionally jovial countenance.”

An often enjoyable romp, despite some awkward prose.

Pub Date: June 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9970719-9-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 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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