Bursts with quirky spirit and gleeful comic energy.

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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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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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