by Malachy Tallack ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 6, 2018
A gentle tale of an island buffeted by wild winds and imbued with melancholy.
A tender evocation of a sheltered valley.
In his delicately wrought debut novel, journalist, songwriter, and nonfiction writer Tallack (The Undiscovered Islands:An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes, 2017, etc.) explores the meaning of place, freedom, and community to residents of a remote Scottish island. Like Anne Tyler’s Baltimore or Jane Smiley’s Iowa, Tallack’s Shetland valley, a landscape that he knows intimately, is integral to the lives of his characters, who seek solace and communion there: emotionally wounded Sandy, for one; Alice, a mystery writer grieving after her husband’s sudden death; and Terry, escaping loneliness in alcohol. For Sandy, who lives in one of the island’s larger towns, the valley insulates him “from the fractured world that once had seemed so threatening,” making him feel “absorbed by the place, without being destroyed by it.” He came with his girlfriend, Emma, whose parents are crofters, a way of life her father inherited without question: “both a gift and a choice.” Emma, though, feeling smothered by the valley, has left, suddenly, to make other choices. When her father offers Sandy work and a place to live, the young man decides to stay. Also escaping a fractured world is Alice, who has returned to the island that enchanted her on her honeymoon. Now she plans to write about it, “to contain it in words and in thoughts, to describe the place and to encompass it.” Provisionally titled The Valley at the Centre of the World, the book project, she hopes, will give her a sense of belonging. But learning about hedgehogs, sheep, and hares leaves Alice longing to know more about her elusive, reticent neighbors. After an elderly woman dies, her journals, diaries, and letters are passed on to Alice. But neither the writings nor the woman’s house, which Sandy moves into, reveal Maggie’s inner life. Indeed, Tallack’s gentle, compassionate portrayal of his characters leaves their hearts and minds inviolable: “Sometimes,” one woman remarks to Terry, “things lose their magic when you know how to take them apart.”A gentle tale of an island buffeted by wild winds and imbued with melancholy.
Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
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
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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