THE TREE PEOPLE

On the Olympic Peninsula's Salish reservation, the disinterring of an evil shaman, whose soul has been immured in a giant cedar for 500 years, unleashes a torrent of deviltry among 20th-century loggers. Michael McTavish, head of Quinault Lumber, has won a contract to log acres of precious timber on the Quinault reservation, on the condition that he avoid the area marked off as sacred. But when someone moves the marker to exclude a particularly inviting cedar, Matt Swayle, Quinault's chief faller, promptly chainsaws the tree, releasing the patiently malevolent spirit of the magician Xulk and creating atmospheric disturbances that spook even Matt and his equally hard-bitten hound. Within hours, Lia Prefontaine, errant wife of local police chief Paul Prefontaine, has fallen victim to the fatal illusion that she can fly. Over the summer the calamities continue: A loading dock mysteriously catches fire; a tour guide disappears from the group she was leading; a bear confronted by loggers flees into the woods only to return with unwonted savagery a few minutes later. But the most painful casualty is Mike McTavish, claimed by a modern-day witch called Aminte as the consort who can stand in for Xulk himself. Reeling from his death, Mike's widow, Hannah, battles to keep Quinault afloat despite opposition from her absent partner and the obligatory tree-huggers. Yet first-novelist Stokes (The Castrated Woman: What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Hysterectomy, 1986), whose sympathies are really with the environmentalists, pairs Hannah with another equally strong heroine, Paul's twin sister, Jordan Tidewater, the acting tribal sheriff descended from Xulk's nemesis—a woman who gradually discovers and accepts in herself the primeval powers needed to defeat Xulk once again. The Clan of the Cave Bear meets Twin Peaks. Rangy and even majestic, though it's hard to take it quite as seriously as the principals do.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-85633-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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