IN THE CASA AZUL

A complex story laid out with consummate skill and aimed directly at the powerful vortex where emotion and politics converge.

In a carefully researched first outing, Delahunt tells the story of Trotsky’s wait in a fortified Mexico City house for the arrival of Stalin’s assassins.

One of the brightest firebrands of the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky (born Lev Davidovich) was drummed out of the country by his jealous enemy, Stalin, and now, amid a swirl of memories—of love, betrayal, and revolution—the last days of the revolutionst are related in a series of impressionistic pieces, some narrated by Trotsky himself, others by people who knew him. The timespan goes from Trotsky’s Ukrainian childhood in the late-19th century all the way up to the 1950s, years after his death, when the man who ordered his assassination, Joseph Stalin, lies dying in Moscow. The story begins with a recollection of his arrival in Mexico City, where he and his wife stayed with the flamboyantly emotional and political couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Along the way we hear from Trotsky’s farmer father; his wife; one of his bodyguards; the Soviet operative infiltrating Trotsky’s compound; a Mexican artist; Trotsky himself; and others. Delahunt’s command of her vast subject is most impressive indeed as she darts about from lazy days in Mexico City to the frozen steppes of Russia during the Civil War to the conspiracy-cloaked corridors of power in Moscow—all without batting an eye or even once muddying the narrative. The depth of research is astounding in a mapping-out of the volcanic passions and dark evils of the Revolution’s heroes and villains—especially Stalin’s near-Satanic henchman Beria.

A complex story laid out with consummate skill and aimed directly at the powerful vortex where emotion and politics converge.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-29106-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Categories:

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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

Categories:
Close Quickview