by Neil Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2004
A lovely deliverance of a debut, the writing quietly sure, the course of true love meandering through its pages, as untidy...
Though tethered to the rude vicissitudes of everyday life, this fine, sly first novel also boasts a sweet, intoxicating buffer of magic and apocalypse.
The story opens with Buddy, a made-for-TV wrestler, on the skids and headed for the edge. Our boy is just barely keeping it together with pills and beer and memories. Four years ago, Buddy’s wife Alix left him, taking his much-loved daughter to go live with the director of a movie company that had come to their hometown, Wilmington, North Carolina. Since then, Buddy has gone from wrestling hero to fall guy. Deliberately losing hundreds of bouts in a row suitably reflects his rather crummy life and his oddball company of friends. Connelly draws this sidewise and impermanent world with a lighter-than-air hand, delineating a fragile existence shattered when a loony fan from the dark side of professional show wrestling shoots Buddy and a number of his ring cohorts. As Buddy seeks recovery, redemption, and reunion, Connelly keeps the action off-kilter. Buddy will meet his double, who tenders sound advice on more than one occasion; there will be a miracle (right out of Amal and the Night Visitors); one of Buddy’s homeless chums will discover the beauty of Svobodian utopianism; Buddy will fake amnesia in a ruse to win back his wife. The nimble prose has plenty of momentum; this is a story of winning back love, and readers will be pulling for Buddy. The plot backdrop—a Texas-sized asteroid headed toward Mother Earth—is, believe it or not, unobtrusive: Connelly’s magicalism is modest enough to register without a blink, and the apocalypse is more aura than menace, trivial in comparison to the cataclysm that is Buddy’s daily grind.A lovely deliverance of a debut, the writing quietly sure, the course of true love meandering through its pages, as untidy as a construction site.
Pub Date: July 5, 2004
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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National Book Award Finalist
Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.
Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Pub Date: March 10, 2015
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.
Pub Date: July 11, 1960
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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