STEALING TIME

A novelist's debut volume of short stories, 14 in all, many having first appeared in the New Yorker. Grimm's first novel Left to Themselves (1993) told of emotionally inept, blue-collar Ohio characters and tended to drift in the same hopeless depression as its cast. The stories in Stealing Time show Grimm in better form, although her soft endings may well satisfy only herself. Perhaps the best of the lot is the National Magazine Award-winning ``We,'' a true knockout about three young Ohio women, their early marriages, their children, and their first decade as adults; their emotions settle like rust and their expectations lower with new sewing machines, Tupperware parties, recipe trading, book clubs, parties, illnesses, and aging husbands. ``Bring Back the Dead'' also has a strong storyline: a psychic mother, while trying to locate her kidnapped daughter, drives off her husband, boxes junk food in a Dunkin' Donuts, and goes through psychic rituals. In ``We Who Are Young'' a pair of sisters visit their 81-year-old aunt on a sultry midsummer day, and the aunt makes clear to them the special qualities of sisterhood. In the title story, the same sisters, now losing their own grip on the past, visit another aunt with Alzheimer's who has lost much more than they have (this one ends weirdly). The lively ``Research'' tells of a college sophomore's desire to dispense with her virginity, even though her roommates don't go that far in their sex play; success has a small payoff. ``Book of Dreams'' and ``Teenagers Living in Cleveland'' are drowsy coming-of-age tales. Movingly detailed stories, but one must strain to remember many of them even an hour after reading.

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-40099-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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