An entertaining horror-story collection that helps support a good cause.

CHIRAL MAD 2

A new anthology of psychological-horror tales, with proceeds going to Down syndrome charities.

This volume, the second in a series, offers 28 short stories written by authors from all over the world, and of various literary standings—from veteran award-winners (such as Jack Ketchum, author of the famous 1989 horror novel The Girl Next Door) to the greenest neophytes. However, the authors’ previous writing experience, or lack thereof, doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of their contributions. Their stories also don’t always abide by the “thriller” label, but exist just a bit outside the boundaries; most of the offerings are engaging, although some are rather reserved in tone. However, there are a few that deliver shiver-inducing feelings of horrified delight, and one such gem is Dustin LaValley’s gritty, feral “Picture-in-Picture.” Things start to really heat up with Thomas F. Monteleone’s eerily demented “When I Was,” which sheds new light on guardian angels. There’s little time for readers to calm their nerves before Lucy A. Snyder’s creative marital nightmare, “Approaching Lavender,” and Ann K. Boyer goes straight for the blood and gore in her squeamishly titillating “In the Eyes of the Beholder.” These samplings in no way comprise a complete list of all the great stories in this compilation—many more deserve kudos—but it should be noted that, as in most collections, not every story is a home run. Some simply may fail to capture readers’ attention, or leave them scratching their heads as to their meaning. However, with such an eclectic group of writers, whose styles and voices range from quietly intense to literally thrilling, there’s bound to be something here for everyone.

An entertaining horror-story collection that helps support a good cause.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1494239978

Page Count: 424

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2014

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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