Huston provides readers with more than a mere snapshot; her raw and sensual writing delivers the complete picture.


A woman explores complex family relationships and discovers truths about herself in this sensual, intricately woven offering from award-winning Huston (Fault Lines, 2008, etc.).

As freelance photographer Rena Greenblatt joins her aging father and abrasive stepmother in Italy for a dreaded week of vacation, the experience evolves into a period of self-reflection about her childhood, relationships, sensuality and self. Rena, a sexually uninhibited free spirit in her mid-40s, has had numerous lovers and husbands. Her chosen profession involves the use of infrared photography that allows her to “see” into the souls of her subjects during their most intimate moments. She is oddly reluctant to use her camera to document her trip and perhaps expose too many truths, but as she spends more time with her father and stepmother, slowly she peels away the complicated layers that encompass the intricate familial relationships that exist. Rena’s imaginary sister and voice in her head, Subra—the backward spelling of deceased photographer Diane Arbus—poses probing questions that prompt revelations about Rena’s background and her family: a once jealous and abusive older brother whom Rena loves, a mother who loved her but was always busy with her disadvantaged clients, and a philandering father, a doctoral candidate who once patterned himself after activist Timothy Leary and dropped acid with his daughter. As the week advances, Rena receives increasingly frantic phone calls from her French-born Algerian lover, who implores her to return to their home in France to document the race riots that are consuming the suburbs of Paris. But Rena, unwilling to affect an early departure, ignores his pleas as she faces the pivotal events of her past and reconciles these with the emotional reality of the present.

Huston provides readers with more than a mere snapshot; her raw and sensual writing delivers the complete picture.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2027-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Black Cat/Grove

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.


Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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The Brat Pack meets The Bacchae in this precious, way-too-long, and utterly unsuspenseful town-and-gown murder tale. A bunch of ever-so-mandarin college kids in a small Vermont school are the eager epigones of an aloof classics professor, and in their exclusivity and snobbishness and eagerness to please their teacher, they are moved to try to enact Dionysian frenzies in the woods. During the only one that actually comes off, a local farmer happens upon them—and they kill him. But the death isn't ruled a murder—and might never have been if one of the gang—a cadging sybarite named Bunny Corcoran—hadn't shown signs of cracking under the secret's weight. And so he too is dispatched. The narrator, a blank-slate Californian named Richard Pepen chronicles the coverup. But if you're thinking remorse-drama, conscience masque, or even semi-trashy who'll-break-first? page-turner, forget it: This is a straight gee-whiz, first-to-have-ever-noticed college novel—"Hampden College, as a body, was always strangely prone to hysteria. Whether from isolation, malice, or simple boredom, people there were far more credulous and excitable than educated people are generally thought to be, and this hermetic, overheated atmosphere made it a thriving black petri dish of melodrama and distortion." First-novelist Tartt goes muzzy when she has to describe human confrontations (the murder, or sex, or even the ping-ponging of fear), and is much more comfortable in transcribing aimless dorm-room paranoia or the TV shows that the malefactors anesthetize themselves with as fate ticks down. By telegraphing the murders, Tartt wants us to be continually horrified at these kids—while inviting us to semi-enjoy their manneristic fetishes and refined tastes. This ersatz-Fitzgerald mix of moralizing and mirror-looking (Jay McInerney shook and poured the shaker first) is very 80's—and in Tartt's strenuous version already seems dated, formulaic. Les Nerds du Mal—and about as deep (if not nearly as involving) as a TV movie.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 1992

ISBN: 1400031702

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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