Fun more in the telling than in the tale.

HUNTING IN HARLEM

Three ex-cons get ensnared in a treacherous scheme to revitalize Harlem.

Second-novelist Johnson (Drop, 2000) begins his likable, and often entertaining story, virtually a casual history of Harlem, as Starbucks, developers, and homebuyers encircle the neighborhood, sniffing bargain real estate and threatening to seal Harlem’s fate as “the most romanticized ghetto in the world.” Johnson’s perceptive insights point up what black culture would lose in the transition, a fate that jars protagonist Cedric Snowden from his ennui. Just sprung from a sentence for the murder of his father (it was mostly an accident), Snowden and two other former big-house residents are enlisted by Horizon Reality in a program that promises to rebuild the neighborhood by cleaning out crime and opening up housing for the middle class. The reward: in a year, Horizon will deed the ex-cons a history-laden brownstone. Snowden’s work finds him disposing of the belongings of recently deceased apartment owners to get the premises in shape for new owners. He soon sniffs a pattern in what’s going on: all the apartments housed lowlifes (thieves, pimps, drug dealers) who died in violent accidents, spiking the accidental death rate in Harlem way beyond that of the rest of the city. Piper Goines, keen reporter for the New Holland Herald, also senses something suspicious and starts asking questions. Her investigation brings the somewhat rambling narrative into focus but also sends it along a rather conventional line that ends up begging credibility. No matter. Johnson makes a welcome raconteur for a late night: he’s sharply observant and funny, even witty at times. He can also be long-winded, and some of his sentences do bump along. Still, few will complain as long as the good lines keep coming.

Fun more in the telling than in the tale.

Pub Date: May 14, 2003

ISBN: 1-58234-272-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more