A novelist forcing cleverness is like a QB forcing throws into double coverage: prospects bleak.

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RED ZONE

The famed sportswriter’s blitz of one-liners sacks his latest football novel.

It’s not that the jokes are never funny; it’s just that they so seldom stop. Again and again—as was the case in Bump and Run (2000), to which this is a sequel—the effect is to strip a scene of its drama, or to undercut character credibility, the sine qua non of maintaining reader interest. Too bad, because Jack Molloy—a man with a code in a world that has no time for such abstractions—is a character people might like if they were allowed to take him seriously. More than a year has passed since Molloy’s New York Hawks, the team he inherited from his father, posted that stirring victory in the Super Bowl. Aside from swanning around in Europe, Molloy has done little with his life since, and nothing that could be considered positive. On the negative side, he’s managed to make a kind of Faustian bargain with a robber baron named Dick Miles, and when he wakes up to the starkness of its implications, he discovers he’s got scads of money and no football team. True enough, the title on the door says President, but controlling interest is owned by the rapscallion who euchred him out of it. Sobered by his own fecklessness, Molloy dedicates himself to retrieving what he once swore he’d never part with. Not easy. Shrewd as well as ruthless, Miles has attacked the Molloy support system, systematically dismantling it: friend and coach allowed to seek Green Bay pastures; secretary and all-purpose loyalist fired for bogus reasons; and so on. But Miles is about to learn what others have before him—it’s a mistake to underestimate an aroused Molloy.

A novelist forcing cleverness is like a QB forcing throws into double coverage: prospects bleak.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15082-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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