An entertaining, discerning take on the connections between the Old and New West.


A mixed martial arts fighter draws on the spirit of his mountain-man ancestor during a precarious Western journey in this debut novel.

Brendan “Bear” Glass is an MMA combatant whose raw power has won him some fame. In his latest match, he is beaten to a pulp by his opponent and ends up in a bloody pile on the floor. He is astonished to learn that his manager had given him rat poison in order to make the bout gorier. Badly injured, he won’t fight again, so he connects with his nephew, Branch. Brendan plans to build an enormous marijuana-growing facility under the guise of a luxury gym and resort in Montucky—backwoods Montana. The goal will be to transport the weed from California to the new site without getting stopped by the police. Two hundred years earlier, Hugh Glass, Brendan’s ancestor, an old mountain man, takes the same journey, though for Hugh it is just after the Lewis and Clark expedition. Hugh is a former sailor, plunderer, and survivor of a notable bear attack. He’s killing time as a fur trapper, waiting six years before he and his partner go back to retrieve some treasure they hid after stealing it from a French pirate. In the present day, Brendan is gripped by a sudden pain and detours to an abandoned sweat lodge, the same one that Hugh recovered in after the bear attack. There, Brendan makes a mystical connection to his ancestor that may help him with his uncertain future. Gaddis’ novel unleashes a flurry of Western sights and sounds that stretch from St. Louis to Mendocino, California, in two wildly different centuries. The old times, inside Mandan Indian villages and Colonial forts, are described in forthright, heedful language, while the contemporary story holds on to similar circumspection (“Now it’s an arid collection of collapsed lean-tos, yurts, willow benders and dilapidated canned ham trailers amid weed-ridden garden plots with fallen fences”). Amid the book’s brisk plot, the exploration of the roots of Western families is impressive, depicting the players as cunning self-starters in a diverse world of opportunity and peril. While Brendan’s dreams of a hydroponics empire aren’t quite as alluring as the tale of Hugh and the bear, they are similarly scrupulous and analogous in spirit.

An entertaining, discerning take on the connections between the Old and New West.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9981646-1-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Shitaree Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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