At once powerful and delicate, compassionate and cleareyed, this book is sure to breed interest in a new literary voice.

RUTTING SEASON

This arresting debut short story collection often finds its protagonists poised between disaster and redemption.

It’s not always easy to foresee how the stories in Smith’s collection will end. In “Mercy,” recently widowed Pam is doing her best to take care of her young kids and the animals on her horse farm, but things keep dying: the kids’ puppy, the kittens, goldfish, a duckling, the barn cat, some chicks and goats. Even the hamster has gone missing. When Pam distractedly lets her beloved Thoroughbred, Ace, get into the grain bin—“even an hour of gorging on grain could kill a horse,” the reader has been warned—it looks like the death toll on the farm will climb further. Will it? “Rutting Season” follows a chain of office misery—Ray the computer guy’s unrequited crush on Lisa, in fundraising, prompts a lunchroom encounter in which Ray treats his assistant, Carl, cruelly—that may lead to a workplace shooting. Can an unexpected act of kindness deflect the violence? “Siege” also hinges on a decision about whether to come out shooting or surrender to life’s disappointments and injustices. Will Amber, a young woman who picks up her late mother’s boyfriend’s gun after he has been killed, choose violence or victimhood…or both? Yet the unpredictability of the nine stories here, many of which deal with matters of life and death, is only part of their charm. Nuanced and empathetic, at times dangerous, tragic, or redemptive, these stories find their subjects in the midst of pivotal moments in their lives, as they struggle with impulses and actions both animalistically urgent and deeply, hauntingly human.

At once powerful and delicate, compassionate and cleareyed, this book is sure to breed interest in a new literary voice.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9270-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more