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PRINTZ

An introspective novel that reveals the depths of human connection and the struggle to overcome loneliness and trauma.

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A chance meeting in Paris sends two Americans into a relationship that forces them both to consider how well they know themselves and those around them in D’Agincourt’s (All Most, 2015, etc.) latest novel.

Jacob Printz, apparently in his early 40s, is a political campaign manager who can talk his way out of anything. But after his sister, Catherine, dies, he drops the various strands of his life and flies to Paris, with no plans other than to escape grief. Greta Hatler, 12 years Jacob’s junior, is similarly aimless; during a semester studying art history in Florence, Greta falls in love with her Italian lecturer, Tomasso. But now the semester is over, Greta is in Paris, and all she has is Tomasso’s ring and vague guilt. Tomasso remains a mystery for much of the novel as Greta attempts to piece together her affair and reconcile her memories; the last thing that she recalls about Tomasso is that he may be dying. In Paris, Jacob and Greta are thrown together not by romantic attraction but by twists of fate. Greta loses the ring, and Jacob returns it to her. But the cafe to which they retreat almost becomes the target of a suicide bomber. This layer of danger brings the two characters closer as they confront their fears and grief. D’Agincourt offers a quiet novel about trauma, memory, and how well one can understand another person. She often compares people and artworks, showing how both can be the subjects of speculation and interpretation. At one point, she describes how Greta, seeking to understand Tomasso, imagines his childhood: “He must have been precocious…rambunctious on the playground, needing to be the leader.” But then Tomasso tells her how wrong her imaginings are. Via third-person narration, D’Agincourt effectively steps into the heads of both Jacob and Greta, seamlessly integrating their perspectives and acute senses of loneliness. Despite their desire to connect, the characters lack the ability to adequately communicate their feelings. However, their flaws also give them complex interior lives that propel the novel forward.

An introspective novel that reveals the depths of human connection and the struggle to overcome loneliness and trauma.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9891745-9-6

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Portmay Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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