THE KINGDOM OF SHIVAS IRONS

Ghosts on the golf course! Phantom visitations on the ninth green! Platonism, the paranormal, and psychedelic whiskey at Scotland's most famed but fictional golf course! Yes, Murphy, golf's greatest mystic, humorist, and founder-director of the Esalen Institute, has at last spawned a sequel to his otherworldly Golf in the Kingdom, which has sold 750,000 copies since 1972. In volume one, Murphy went to the fictitious Burningbush course in Scotland's County Fife (``The Kingdom''), where he had a metaphysical encounter with Shivas Irons, a guru/pro of supernatural perfection whose line of mystical palaver would leave Madame Blavatsky drooling enviously. Since that encounter, many parts of which, Murphy explains, he could not put into volume one because they'd not fully matured and developed (such as Murphy's sighting of Irons's own guru, Seamus McDuff, three years after McDuff's death), Murphy and his buddies have been hyperaware of luminous bodies on the green—paranormals guiding balls through shots only a witch could make. He returns to Scotland once more to seek out Shivas Irons. There, he finds himself well-known, his book read to tatters by the locals, all of whom try to wheedle from him how much of his account is true. Meantime, Murphy falls in with Buck Hannigan, a James Joyce look-alike and theoretical physicist hooked on the paranormal, and together they visit the late Seamus's glowing house and his preposterously difficult seven-hole personal golf course, designed to help raise otherworldly spirits. A visit to Hannigan's mistress, a Russian mystic and channeler, shows the ties between angels and eros, while all comes to a head at the '93 National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Do they find Shivas? Well, spiritually. A big hit? Doubt it not. These are the occult dimensions of golf, straight from the Easter bunny. ($200,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 1997

ISBN: 0-7679-0018-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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