Amusing story of a Masai tribe living in an Alabama doctor's backyard. Second-novelist Shulman (What? Dead Again?, 1980) also wrote the script for Doc Hollywood. Here, Shulman weaves two themes into one tale. The first is the spread of electronics even to a remote African village; the second shows the effect of primitive life on civilization when an African tribe moves itself to the States. Dr. Bud Pane and his gardener wife Gail take a vacation in the African bush, where Bud's instantly dragooned by medical nuns and finds himself drowned in work as he sews up a Masai warrior shredded by a lion. Adopted by the tribe, he begs them to allow him to take shining, 11-year-old Hope to Alabama, where surgery can save her rheumatic heart from its failing mitral valve. Bud passes through disgusting ceremonies and now bears his own spear and shield, so the tribe lets Hope go. When he and Gail fly home, he leaves his gold card with a travel agent to cover Hope's flight. Surprise, not only Hope but her medicine man, family, and many tribal members accompany her on the gold card to the doctor's home and set themselves up in his backyard, where they build mud huts in Gail's flower garden. The fun involves the tribal medicine man working in a modern hospital's emergency room and bringing his ancient medical wisdom to bear on the wounded. Also, Masai believe that they own all the cows on earth, and so begin herding local cows into Bud's backyard. The climax brings on Oprah Winfrey and Global News Network broadcasting from Hope's operating room and the Masai village in Africa both at once. Much funnier than it has any right to be, perhaps because Shulman somewhat restrains the ersatz uproar and totally stupid plot, much like those in Max Shulman's witless old squirrel-houses, Barefoot Boy with Cheek and Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!

Pub Date: March 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-10513-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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