THE HERALD

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Killer Angels: a sort of doomsday fairy tale—occasionally poetic but mostly just implausible and stereotype-bound. Nick Tesla and his girlfriend Rachel land his small plane at a Georgia college-town airport—where they find everyone dead. . . and Rachel herself soon dies. Some 70,000 people have died overnight, in fact, from some mysterious radiation; the streets are empty, wild dogs are eating corpses. And then, beyond the invisible radiation wall around the town, Nick meets an Army team led by Presidential troubleshooter Colonel Richard Ring and a scientific team led by Aldo Corelli. Will Nick, who clearly has some genetic resistance to the mysterious killer (it's sweeping the country), drive into town on a recon mission for Colonel Ring? He will—and he finds someone alive there: catatonic Ruth, whom he feeds and loves while running into a few more folks who have survived. But the survivors have no interest in leaving this now-pastoral and isolated town. And among the survivors is the man behind the radiation: A. M. Shepherd, a Nobel-winner in genetics; known as The Herald of the Lightning for his apocalyptic ideas, he's a member of the disaffected scientists banded into the "Club of Rome." So now Colonel Ring wants Nick to break into Shepherd's lab and locate his infernal machine. Nick wavers; Ring sends in guided electronic tanks to blow up the building; Shepherd dies. But his legacy is a genetic dust cloud now circling the planet and killing most of mankind (except for those peace-loving folks with the right genes). Smoothly written—but stuck in a no-man's-land somewhere between science fiction (or disaster-thriller) and serious fable.

Pub Date: June 1, 1981

ISBN: 0380613824

Page Count: 224

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1981

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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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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