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Runkle creates an array of worlds that will at different times surprise, confuse and entertain.

Bizarre, otherworldly tales and modern parables for contemporary life fill the 22 stories of Runkle’s debut.

Runkle excels at openings, delicately placing the reader into even the most absurd scenarios with only a few words. Take “Warmth,” a would-be Christmas tale in which Christ is actually a snow lizard. “We have to bobsled into this story,” it starts. Within Runkle’s highly imaginative and uncanny domain, the prose succeeds where the lens is most focused on a single character or event. Sherri, the protagonist of “Veterans Day,” is “a fat girl and everyone’s upset with her being fat.” She lives “in a wasteland,” “her breasts sag,” and “she spends half the day apologizing.” When they take on too wide a scope, the stories become alienating in their strangeness and density. “Face,” one of the longer stories, resists any attempts at classification. Here, an invention known as “the book  is in need of a leader. What is the book? It offers “freedom from the tethers of geography” and allows people to make “profiles” and turn friends to “followers.” It seems like an exaggeration of a social network, and the story at first reads like an extended allegory for our increasingly virtual lives. Such a reading is complicated by the overlapping subplots, a digression to New Orleans and an ill-fitting moral about the “many types of envy.” Several of the shorter pieces, including “Columbus Was Named for the Dove” and “I Am So Alone,” consist of trippy images more than any true plot or character and would frustrate a reader searching for a more conventional tale. Even these stories, however, are told with fresh, stunning language. 

Runkle creates an array of worlds that will at different times surprise, confuse and entertain.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936767-26-7

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Brooklyn Arts Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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