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JULIET, NAKED

Few can match the muted humor, lingering poignancy and depth with which Hornby (A Long Way Down, 2005, etc.) limns his...

British woman finds herself in an intimate e-mail relationship with the obscure ’80s rock star her music-obsessed ex idolizes.

Annie can understand liking American singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe. After all, his masterful breakup album, Juliet, is one of her favorites. The problem is that her longtime live-in boyfriend Duncan (an older, sadder version of Rob in Hornby’s High Fidelity, 1995) lives and breathes Tucker Crowe, to the exclusion of having an actual grown-up life. After 15 years, Annie realizes she has wasted her childbearing prime tied to a man who feels more passion for a reclusive musician than he could ever muster for her. Duncan then makes it easy for Annie to kick him out by cheating on her with Gina, a new performing-arts instructor at the school where he teaches. In the meantime, Annie has inadvertently begun a web correspondence with Tucker himself, who finds her through an astute post she leaves on one of Duncan’s geeky fan sites. The years have not been kind to Tucker, who lives in suburban Pennsylvania with his young son. His life bears little resemblance to the legend that has grown up around his disappearance more than 20 years earlier. Their meaningful exchanges awaken feelings in Annie that she had nearly given up on, while also giving her a vicarious thrill over one-upping Duncan. Tucker likes her too, finding her wit and kindness refreshing after years of chasing models. Living in a sleepy English seaside town, Annie has little hope of actually meeting her correspondent, but when a family drama brings Tucker to London, she sees an opportunity for adventure—and more. Tucker arrives, personal baggage in tow, and what happens next transforms both their lives in ways they could not have anticipated.

Few can match the muted humor, lingering poignancy and depth with which Hornby (A Long Way Down, 2005, etc.) limns his forgivably human characters.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59448-887-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

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OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

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