We suspect Joyce himself would be pleased with this production, a boon for scholars and general readers alike. (Requires iOS...

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JOYCE'S ULYSSES

A GUIDE

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan and crew find themselves well-served in a new app that blends Joyce’s text with its Greek inspiration.

A classic of literary modernism, Ulysses is now over 100 years old. It benefits nicely from the new-tech treatment of the modern app, though the developers might have done even more with it; the annotations, for instance, are numerous but light and sometimes too glancing. Generally, though, they’re helpful, especially for readers without a suitably Joycean cultural background: In case the point is missed in the text itself, it doesn’t take much in the way of those annotations to see that Joyce is parodying the Catholic Mass in the opening paragraphs, and the editors even connect the “white corpuscles” of the first page to the holy proceedings. The app contains an abridged recording of the text, as well as period recordings of some of the music (“A Nation Once Again,” “In Old Madrid” and so forth) that Joyce’s characters enjoy during the course of that storied June day in 1904. A particularly welcome lagniappe is the text of Homer’s Odyssey, the ur-epic underlying Joyce’s own book. Getting around the Greek text, broken into its constituent books, is easy enough, but less so the English: The navigation leads to the headers of the three parts but not to the chapters within them, which, of course, are keyed to the Greek, while the bookmarking feature is sufficient but approximate in a text that is continuous and without pagination. Useful, again, to readers who haven’t explored the ground is a set of photographs providing visual annotations of such things as Martello towers and the exact appearance of 7 Eccles St. before it was bulldozed in the 1960s. One hopes that in future editions these extras might be better hyperlinked to the main text so that readers don’t have to skip around so much, though the serendipity involved leads to some pleasant discoveries among the phantasmal mirth and ghostly light of Joyce’s brilliant words. A search function would be nice, too.

We suspect Joyce himself would be pleased with this production, a boon for scholars and general readers alike. (Requires iOS 6 and above.)

Pub Date: June 1, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Naxos Digital Services, Ltd.

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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