THE JEALOUS SON

A bold, tragic, and emotionally exploratory drama.

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A family saga that draws on the biblical tale of Cain and Abel.

In this novel, Chynoweth (The Runaway Prophet, 2016, etc.) modernizes a story in the Book of Genesis, grounding it in the characters’ emotional connections. The story follows Eliza and Alex Trellis, a couple with some surface-level problems in their marriage and a much deeper secret: They were both banished from their Navajo reservation, due to misguided choices that they made in their teens. The story then follows their two children, Cameron and his younger brother, Austin, as they grow into adulthood. Cameron, from the start, feels that Austin has it easier than he does, and this feeling only increases in high school when Austin finds success as a solo musical artist after playing for just one night in Cameron’s rock band. Then Cameron starts having troubles in his love life, and Austin begins dating Megan McGee,a girl that Cameron briefly datedin high school. The elder brother’s consuming jealousy eventually leads to ruin. Along the way, the novel explores Eliza’s understanding of her sons’ conflict, and Alex’s gambling addiction, among other issues. After a climactic tragedy, the author shows readers how her characters find ways to carry on—re-establishing trust, in some cases, but painstakingly slowly. Overall, Chynoweth manages to make the story feel incredibly visceral. She shows a talent for taking small details from the original Bible story, such as Eve’s surprising pregnancy later in life, and turning them into valuable plot developments; along the way, her characters learn from one another. The key to the novel’s success is the author’s ability to provide deep insights into her characters’ tumultuous mental states.

A bold, tragic, and emotionally exploratory drama.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63195-048-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morgan James Fiction

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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