Very cerebral and rather obvious.


From novelist (Harry Gold, 2000) and biographer Dillon (Paul Bowles, et al.): a spare psychoanalytical tale constructed much like a “serious art film,” with ambiguous scenes and loaded dialogue.

It’s circa 1960, and Lorle, a divorced mother, is in a car with her lover Edmund on an overnight trip to California’s gold country. Adoring Edmund, she can’t stop analyzing his every gesture, even as he avoids intense dialogue. When the car breaks down, they must leave it at a local garage and fly home. A man named Vern gives them a ride to the airport. Later, Vern invites Edmund to come pan for gold, but Edmund rebuffs him. Back in the city, Lorle sees a note on Edmund’s door signed “Love, Carol” and is inflamed with jealousy. Soon Edmund, who was previously Lorle’s analyst, breaks off with her and marries Carol because Carol offers him peace. He recommends a new analyst to Lorle, who grows emotionally stronger while Edmund weakens. When he visits Lorle, they make love but she gives him an ultimatum: not to visit again unless he calls by Saturday. Before the deadline, he has a fatal heart attack. Meanwhile, Vern, who, like Edmund, has not emotionally recovered from his WWII experiences, lives cut off from his past—in a cabin—until visited by his boyhood friend Neal. On a return visit to Neal in the city, he meets a woman who’s opening a resort in Mexico. His lonely life no longer satisfying, he looks up Lorle and invites her to Mexico. She accepts, though she’d refused to do the same with Edmund, fearing too much strangeness. In Mexico, Vern and Lorle find great sexual chemistry, he now obsessed with her the way she’d been with Edmund, she disengaged just as Edmund had been. Frustrated and angry, Vern storms out. Driving around, he saves some people in fire. When he returns, he and Lorle find a bittersweet peace and head home.

Very cerebral and rather obvious.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-393-05216-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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