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Decidedly one-note, however richly sung.

A cellist attending the funeral of her renowned ex-husband is beset by conflicting emotions, in this impressionistic fiction by award-winning Mexican author Glantz (Family Tree, 1991, etc.).

Nora Garcia has not visited the dusty village where she lived with Juan, a world-class pianist, since their divorce many years before, but news of his heart attack and death has brought her there one last time. Estranged from old friends attending the wake, unknown to the others, Nora wanders between the garden and the living room where Juan’s corpse lies, overhearing mourners wonder aloud whom “they should offer their heartfelt condolences to.” Thus isolated, she remembers the past she shared with Juan, the music they loved and the pontifications he often delivered late at night on subjects such as the careers of Giovanni Pergolesi and Glenn Gould. Very little happens here beyond the wake, the funeral procession (complete with mariachis and a beggar with a bandaged foot) up a rocky path to a small church, and the burial. Otherwise, the exposition is confined to Nora’s circular meditations on, among many other things, the physiology of myocardial infarction and its metaphorical extension, a broken heart. Sometimes this theme-and-variation technique succeeds, and the story evokes an eloquent mood of loss as it considers the power of memory as filtered through grief. More often, however, Nora’s mental meanderings, especially when unnecessarily protracted (subjects include John Singer Sergeant’s portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner and Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot), seem to reflect the author’s interests rather than the development of her character’s epiphany. Furthermore, the indulgent misuse of colons and parentheses, scattered annoyingly throughout the text like inscrutable emotions, undermines the narrative authority necessary when asking a reader to navigate a work cast entirely in stream-of-consciousness.

Decidedly one-note, however richly sung.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-931896-23-2

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Curbstone Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2005

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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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

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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