Bursts with quirky spirit and gleeful comic energy.

THE ROXY LETTERS

A series of mostly undelivered letters from a vegan Whole Foods deli maid and Goddess worshiper to her slacker ex-boyfriend.

“Dear Everett, Perhaps I’ve invited you to move into my spare bedroom against my better judgment.” Judgment is not the long suit of Poxy Roxy—so dubbed by her evil supervisor, Dirty Steve, during a bout with chickenpox. Feeling adrift, she turns to columnist Dear Sugar for advice. “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is tackle the motherfucking shit out of it,” says Sugar, and to Roxy, this means organizing a campaign to take down the Lululemon store that is moving into the space once occupied by her beloved Waterloo Video—because Lululemon is not a funky local business. Meanwhile, she's right across the street at the behemoth Whole Foods flagship store, which erased the character of this supposedly historic intersection when it opened in 1980. Well, it used to be a funky local business, before Roxy was born. Only animal rights is a stronger motivator for Roxy than confused anti-corporate nostalgia. “Thank Goddess that Spider House is still going strong, despite the fact that Starbucks stores have spread through the city faster than an STD in a retirement home.” A clitoral masturbation cult, romantic liaisons with a skateboarder and a drummer, a feud with her meth-head neighbors, the near death of her weiner dog due to choking on the crotch of her pleather underpants—the predicaments never stop for our millennial heroine. Lowry is the heir apparent to Sarah Bird, whose comic novels Alamo House and The Boyfriend School perfectly captured the Austin of the 1980s. Roxy would love them. We will always remember this as the book that taught us the word “kyriarchy.” Look it up.

Bursts with quirky spirit and gleeful comic energy.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-2143-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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