“For all I have known, and will know, this is adaptation.” A smart adaptation indeed of a hallowed classic, repositioning it...


A loose, allusive, and sometimes, well, strange reimagining of Albert Camus’ The Stranger.

“Aujourd’hui, maman est morte,” begins that source novel: today, mother died. Seidlinger’s debut begins with a kind of refractive shrug: “Someone died, I don’t know.” He goes on: someone died, apparently, and here’s the phone note to that effect—but more, here are the comments and likes on that most ubiquitous of social media, by which Meurks measures out his life in the moral equivalent of coffee spoons. “Death and coping with death: The Downer Story of the Year,” he posts, to which the resonant reply comes, “Fuck you Meurks.” Well, as our narrator sighs, there are a lot of trolls out there. Meurks—think Meursault—has more of a life online than Zachary Weinham does in real life. “I am plain looking and even plainer in personality,” Zachary admits, tethered to his phone, avoiding eye contact, always girding up for another crummy day working retail at the mall. So how is it that he gets caught up in a strange plot that involves a shadowy figure named Christopher Rios and ends in death and jail? Here, Seidlinger’s story shifts from a beach in Algeria to the dank basement world of Fight Club, with fuzzy realities and fuzzier memories. An oldster might grumble that Zack and company represent the worst of the millennials, good at whining and not much else, but Zack’s elders aren’t any better (“I guess it was partially my fault,” his dad labors to express). In the end, the story, though obviously derivative, carves its own path, and Seidlinger delivers a thoughtful reflection on existential ennui and the dehumanization wrought by the technology to which we’re enslaved—or, as Zachary quietly notes, “Without my phone, time took on its own shape.”

“For all I have known, and will know, this is adaptation.” A smart adaptation indeed of a hallowed classic, repositioning it for a grimmer world three-quarters of a century on.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-682190-00-5

Page Count: 202

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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

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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.


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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