A sad but sweet song about the uncertainty of middle age and how funny it is when time slips away.


What does love look like when you're not cool anymore? A little older, a little wiser, and just as bewildering and overwhelming.

This slice of contemporary life in New York City could have ended poorly, à la movies like (500) Days of Summer or Blue Valentine, but DeCapite clearly has the acumen to make this brittle, sweet fable both romantic and realistic at the same time. The narrator, Mike, is a bit of a nonentity beyond the way we experience the world through his eyes. The big earthquake that begins the book is his meeting with an old acquaintance named June, a survivor of the bygone punk years who still keeps a scrapbook with, for example, a cigarette she bummed from Iggy Pop. Mike becomes consumed by the soon-to-be-divorced June, still a bit gun-shy despite her adventurous nature. “I’ve always had a thing for you­—twenty years ago I had a thing for you,” she tells him. “I was nervous to be around you because you’re a writer, I just thought you’re so smart, you were the coolest thing but you were married. Now I’m getting divorced, I need to be there for my divorce. I need to feel it and go through it, and I need to take my heart back and have my own life again.” Honest? Kind of. Heartbreaking? Absolutely. But DeCapite doesn’t dwell on the maudlin, instead constructing a narrative composed of equal parts Mike's angst and self-doubt, June’s enigmatic behavior, and Mike's exchanges with the old fellas at the 14th Street Y, who share stories of gangsters, God, and other memories. In the meantime, Mike and June hold on for dear life. “Step by step, you go from the inside to the outside,” he explains. “Life is a process of being gently shown the door.” It’s a completely confounding relationship, which makes it feel so very real.

A sad but sweet song about the uncertainty of middle age and how funny it is when time slips away.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59376-693-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.


A fictional account of the agony and ecstasy of making a movie, from someone who’d know.

For his sprightly debut novel, actor/writer/national treasure Hanks—author of the story collection Uncommon Type, 2017—imagines the making of Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall, a mashup of Marvel-esque superhero fare, war story, and artsy melodrama. The movie’s concept seems like an unworkable, even bad idea, which is part of the point—Hanks stresses the notion that successful movies aren’t just a matter of story but the people who make them. So he’s assembled an engrossing cast of characters: Bob Falls, the World War II vet who served as a flamethrower in the Pacific theater and became a PTSD–struck biker; Robby Andersen, the nephew who turned him into alternative-comix antihero Firefall; Bill Johnson, the well-decorated Spielberg-ian director who acquires the Firefall property and writes the script; and the small army of actors, assistants, and technicians charged with shooting the film in the Northern California town of Lone Butte—on time, lest morale collapse and the budget inflate. Hanks ably depicts how easily things derail. The male lead’s ego wrecks the shooting schedule. A stray social media post complicates security. On-set flirtations threaten a marriage. But the novel reflects the sunny stick-to-it-iveness of many of Hanks’ roles, and his central thesis is that every movie’s true hero is anybody who reduces friction. To that end, his most enchanting and best-drawn characters are the director’s assistant, Al Mac-Teer (full name Allicia), and Ynez Gonzalez-Cruz, a ride-share driver with no movie experience but a knack for problem-solving. “Most of the film business is done by meeting folks,” one character says, and Hanks suggests that meeting the right people—and being kind to them—is half the battle of successful moviemaking. Overly romantic? Consider the source. Regardless, it’s a well-turned tale of a Hollywood (maybe) success. (Sikoryak illustrates some comic-book pages related to the Firefall backstory and film.)

A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.

Pub Date: May 9, 2023

ISBN: 9780525655596

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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