THE GOOD NEWS FROM NORTH HAVEN

A debut collection of mild-mannered, sermon-like tales covering a year in the life of a Presbyterian minister in a small Minnesota town—by a native of Minneapolis and pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Northport, New York. Alter-ego Reverend David Battles arrived in the tiny town of North Haven fresh from seminary school and on his way to grander pulpits, but he and his family have discovered in their four years of small-town life that instead of outgrowing this backwater they've become attached to its every quirk and comfort—and have themselves become a local institution along the way. Tending to a flock of elderly sticks-in-the-mud (including Alvina Johnson, whose iron hand has directed the children's Christmas pageant for 46 years), middle-aged dreamers (like Lamont Wilcox, who's devoted his life to building a boat, though he lives 140 miles from any body of water), and passionate young folk (including Carmen Krepke, a young motorcycle mama who believes she saw Christ on a Harley), Battles presides over Grand Kick-Off Dinners, youthful weddings, and dubious baptisms with restful equanimity, all the while searching for the moral to every little tale. All of which makes for a pleasant enough (if highly homogenized) view-from-the-pulpit of human nature, even if Lindvall's tightly structured and predictable tales echo all too clearly the sermons from which they originally sprang. Prairie Home Companion without the sharp edges—but a good substitute for going to church on Sunday.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-385-41640-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more