RIPTIDE

Laid off from her New York job, plucky artist Isabel Anders allows herself to be drawn back to Florida to take care of her disoriented aunt Merriam, who'd disinherited her after she eloped as a teenager. But Merriam's death only confirms what Isabel had already begun to suspect: that Merriam was attacked by someone desperate to protect some secret she'd stumbled on. The most likely candidate: a clandestine salvage operation from the Spanish ship Esperanza. But if Merriam's own perfectly preserved porcelain jar came from the wreck, why has Isabel's childhood lover, charter captain Harry Mercer, been unable to dredge up anything but useless fragments? And what has the salvage operation got to do with escaped convict Buddy Burke, who's taken off from his Tallahassee work-release job when his daughter Kimmie Lee writes to complain about her mother's lover (``He's not my daddy,'' she glaringly tells Isabel) and ask for a pair of drum majorette's boots? Friedman (A Temporary Ghost, 1987, etc.) provides an engaging heroine, an offbeat supporting cast, and just enough mystery to keep them occupied.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-10417-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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More faithful to the original but less astonishing than Christopher Logue’s work and lacking some of the music of Fagles’...

THE ODYSSEY

Fresh version of one of the world’s oldest epic poems, a foundational text of Western literature.

Sing to me, O muse, of the—well, in the very opening line, the phrase Wilson (Classical Studies, Univ. of Pennsylvania) chooses is the rather bland “complicated man,” the adjective missing out on the deviousness implied in the Greek polytropos, which Robert Fagles translated as “of twists and turns.” Wilson has a few favorite words that the Greek doesn’t strictly support, one of them being “monstrous,” meaning something particularly heinous, and to have Telemachus “showing initiative” seems a little report-card–ish and entirely modern. Still, rose-fingered Dawn is there in all her glory, casting her brilliant light over the wine-dark sea, and Wilson has a lively understanding of the essential violence that underlies the complicated Odysseus’ great ruse to slaughter the suitors who for 10 years have been eating him out of palace and home and pitching woo to the lovely, blameless Penelope; son Telemachus shows that initiative, indeed, by stringing up a bevy of servant girls, “their heads all in a row / …strung up with the noose around their necks / to make their death an agony.” In an interesting aside in her admirably comprehensive introduction, which extends nearly 80 pages, Wilson observes that the hanging “allows young Telemachus to avoid being too close to these girls’ abused, sexualized bodies,” and while her reading sometimes tends to be overly psychologized, she also notes that the violence of Odysseus, by which those suitors “fell like flies,” mirrors that of some of the other ungracious hosts he encountered along his long voyage home to Ithaca.

More faithful to the original but less astonishing than Christopher Logue’s work and lacking some of the music of Fagles’ recent translations of Homer; still, a readable and worthy effort.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-08905-9

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A charming tale about a reporter deciding what she wants from life.

BLACK GIRLS MUST DIE EXHAUSTED

A NOVEL FOR GROWN UPS

A debut novel tells the story of a black woman with a demanding schedule trying to cope with some dire medical news.

“Black girls, they sure must die exhausted,” Tabitha Walker’s grandmother tells her. Her grandmother, who is white, is making an observation, but it’s a phrase that Tabitha, a 33-year-old black woman, knows to be true. She has her hands full as it is: a job as a news reporter in Los Angeles, a serious boyfriend, and saving for a down payment on a house. Then her physician gives her some information that makes things even tenser. “Premature Ovarian Reserve Failure. Gotta love that kind of name, right?” Tabitha thinks. “Rather than a much more friendly ‘disorder,’ the word ‘failure’ is already wrapped right in.” The irony? The condition is caused by stress. Her busy life isn’t even the start of the strain of being a black woman in America (as the fact that she gets pulled over by a cop after leaving the doctor’s office illustrates). Now, in order for Tabitha to have the family she’s always hoped for, she’ll need to find a way to make life less traumatic without sacrificing her career, boyfriend, or nest egg. Luckily, she has her two best friends, Laila and Alexis, to help her out along with her wise Granny Tab. Can Tabitha figure out a way to wrest control over her hectic routine and get her body to chill out enough for her to have it all? Or will she collapse under the pressure, utterly exhausted? Allen writes in a sharp, lively voice that is full of warmth and humor: “ ‘You out here trying to have an NBA baby!’ Laila shouted over the champagne flute at her lips at our Sunday late afternoon brunch table, cracking herself up at me and my indiscretions of the previous night.” Tabitha and her friends are well-drawn, and it is the dynamic between the protagonist and the women in her life that propels the story. Touching on issues of professional womanhood, race, and family, the author crafts a novel that is both timely and enjoyable.

A charming tale about a reporter deciding what she wants from life.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73269-681-5

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Quality Black Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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