A worthy addition to a genre pioneered by writers like Cormac McCarthy and Matt Bell: the post-human pastoral.

NEAR HAVEN

Sirois' promising debut is an apocalypse novel with a twist.

It's 1987, and Tom Beaumont, an apprentice boat builder in Maine, is coming to grips with impending catastrophe: a comet is streaking toward Earth, and its impact, less than a year away, is said to be both unavoidable and fatal for humanity. Civil society has begun collapsing: long-distance communication is faltering; food and fuel are growing ever scarcer; many townsfolk have fled, the infirm have died, and suicide is epidemic. Tom is a thoughtful loner and a skeptic—a "shomee"—but he's too hermitlike and too taciturn to be much of a revolutionary. The book is full of action scenes, as Tom encounters ragtag paramilitaries, a corrupt and venal church, feral animals, a band of pirates...and all this mayhem takes place on home ground. Sirois' intriguing innovation is to keep the focus hyperlocal: Tom strays as rarely as possible from his seaside village or from the dockside workshop where he lives. He's either going to die from the impact or ride it out, but either way he'll be here. The result is a book that focuses not on geopolitics or conspiracy theories or the truth/untruth of the prediction of doom but on Tom's elemental interactions with the land, the weather, marauders, his few remaining friends, and the wreckage of civilization. During the lean, cold winter he even comes, unexpectedly, to appreciate this simpler, more violent, and brutish world. Survival turns out to be the full-time, full-commitment job he's yearned for: "Books and televisions and washing machines were all just filters, ways he had kept the world at a distance. But the world, ignorant of these barriers, was still there." The prose can be florid, and there are occasional plot gaps or clichés, but when Sirois focuses on creating a chronicle of and meditation on life in a postindustrial hellscape, his book impresses.

A worthy addition to a genre pioneered by writers like Cormac McCarthy and Matt Bell: the post-human pastoral.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9973260-4-8

Page Count: 329

Publisher: Belle Lutte Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more