Reads like an emergency manual for activists battling environmental despoliation.

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Fracking Justice

In this sequel to The Fracking War (2014), a small-town New York newspaper crusades against a thuggish energy company.

After losing his wife, Devon, to a drowning accident, journalist Jack Stafford returns from the island nation of Tonga to Horseheads, New York, with his 3-year-old son, Noah, and sister-in-law Cass. At the Horseheads Clarion newspaper, Jack takes the publishing reins back from editor Eli Gupta in time to dedicate his “Column One” editorials to the unsavory activities of Grand Energy Services. The company wants to store propane and natural gas in the salt caverns of Rockwell Valley, Pennsylvania, and build a pipeline through dairy farm country—with minimal input from the citizens affected most by the activities. Jack and his team of journalists use the paper to educate and warn the people of Rockwell Valley that fracking—which blasts water and various chemicals through shale to dislodge gas deposits—adds toxins to water supplies and increases the likelihood of earthquakes. There’s also the danger of stored gas leaking and exploding. Grand Energy, however, is run like a mob by CEO Luther Burnside. He’s got local politicians and judges in his pocket to smooth the way for his greedy agenda, which calls for shipping most of the gas overseas. Balancing the scales are the supposed eco-terrorists, the Wolverines, and a no-nonsense retired teacher named Alice McCallis. Former reporter Fitzgerald brings the weight of a long career to this series; his latest novel offers readers every angle they could ask for in the war between a small town and a company that would seek to subvert free speech and constitutional rights. Scenes with Jack and his staff are often a crash course in deft reportage, as when Jack warns a writer against skimping on scientific detail: “We are publishing stories and photos and videos about an environmental war that the public is losing,” he says. “I can’t have soldiers who don’t know how to fight.” Jack’s personal drama, including his traumatized son who can’t speak, ends up adding a positive human element to a narrative flush with despicable politics and chaos.

Reads like an emergency manual for activists battling environmental despoliation.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-63413-555-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Mill City Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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