A work that examines mysteries of life in an astute, concise manner.

Put the Sky Inside of You

Debut author Toth offers a philosophical novel about learning lessons over a lifetime.

In 1980s Czechoslovakia, military service was required for men over the age of 18, and spending two years in the austere training ground, known as a kasarne, wasn’t seen as an enviable situation. The young men, usually aged between 19 and 22, “felt deprived of their youth, deprived of chatting with girls, deprived of having the fun that an ordinary free life would otherwise offer to them.” Jirka and Jozef meet in a kasarne, and they form a bond as Jozef aids Jirka in writing love letters to his sweetheart, Margareta. However, the men’s relationship is marked by jealousy: who, after all, is the one truly winning over Margareta? Then, after a brief discussion of Einstein and the theory of relativity, the narrative shifts to detailing the life of a man named Julo, who’s born in Czechoslovakia in 1961. But before much is revealed about him, readers find out that he ended up jumping to his death from a kitchen window; the question then becomes “Why? Why did he jump?” As the narrative details Julo’s story, including such events as considering the purchase of a Škoda 105 automobile, serving his military requirement (during which he meets Jirka and Jozef), and mastering “Autogenous Training” relaxation techniques, readers know it’s all destined to end in tragedy. Although one may ascertain from the book’s title that things will get dreamy, Toth instead keeps the plot developments grounded in the real world. It all culminates in a work that’s realistic and contemplative, incorporating both love and tragedy while mingling youthful advice (such as the sentiment that a boy shouldn’t “run to catch bus or after a girl….[I]n 15 minutes another comes”) with more abstract concepts (such as when Jirka wonders if the human brain has its own “event horizon”). Although some readers may not be won over by the characters’ contemplation, those who take an interest in Julo’s experiences will likely want to see how they all come together—or, more accurately, given the character’s suicide, how it all falls apart.

A work that examines mysteries of life in an astute, concise manner. 

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-4103-0

Page Count: 140

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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