Kincaid’s relaxed and folksy second novel (after Crossing Blood, 1992, and a story collection Pretending the Bed is a Raft, 1997) chronicles in their own words the variously impoverished lives of women who love men who love football. In brief chapters narrated by a dozen or more such women, Kincaid explores the gradually raised consciousness of Dixie Carraway, a virginal Alabama innocent who marries football star Mac Gibbs, lives through his embattled coaching tenure at fictional Birmingham University (“Ham U.”), and, to her own surprise, matures into an independent woman who can live without her handsome hero or her inherited ladylike behavior. Dixie’s “testimony” is primary, though there are significant contributions from her mother Rose, placid mother-in-law Millie, feisty girlfriend Frances, and her family’s black hired woman Lilly Brown (whose son Jett earns the pro career denied the modestly gifted Mac). Other narrators—mothers, wives, children, or sweethearts of marketable athletes or befuddled coaching personnel—add their own perspectives to the (alas, trite) story of Mac’s stand against racism (he starts a black quarterback, arousing the local KKK), his submission to the virtually universal practice of recruiting violations, and the loss of his prestigious career and treasured marriage. Kincaid handles this rather pulpy material more-or-less evenhandedly. Mac is anything but an insensitive macho male (in fact, he’s too good to be true); and Dixie’s nervous soul-searching gets on your nerves (especially when her efforts to understand Mac’s preoccupation lead her to such insights as “Football is testosterone-driven art. Football makes me rethink beauty.” Fortunately, Kincaid’s forte—gritty, down-to-earth dialogue—dominates the novel, saving it from its worst miscalculations. She’s equally convincing with bored housewives and dirty-minded good ole boys. Nothing new here, then, but another engaging demonstration of Kincaid’s high-spirite

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 1998

ISBN: 1-56512-178-3

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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