Grim, oversexed, arrogant, intense—Tosches’ protagonist has dumped out his id for all to see, narrative integrity be damned.

READ REVIEW

ME AND THE DEVIL

The longtime chronicler of pop music's shadowy corners explores New York's dark side in this rambling, at times grotesque tale.

The narrator of Tosches' fourth novel (In the Hand of Dante, 2002, etc.), like the author himself, is an aging author named Nick with an abiding love for art and music. (Rock icons Keith Richards and Peter Wolf have brief cameos.) But likening the novel's Nick too much to the author Tosches would be pushing it, or at least the reader would hope: Our hero is a sexual reprobate prone to racist utterances who’s consumed with an unseemly fetish for women's blood, and in his obsessive fog he may have wound up committing murder. The two main relationships in his life are at least consensual: He picks up one woman in a bar during an attempt to quit drinking, while another woman is a young S&M enthusiast who haunts the same AA meetings he does. The transgressive sex scenes owe a good deal to Dennis Cooper, who's long reveled in this material, but while Tosches intentionally pushes the boundaries of good taste—provocateurs like Hubert Selby Jr. and Charles Bukowski are other obvious touchstones—it's the looseness of the narrative that's more exhausting. Nick is prone to longueurs on getting sober (he spends a good deal of time locating a drug that allegedly cures alcoholism), sex, Greek and Latin etymology, Manhattan gentrification and the fate of the publishing industry. The plot between the riffs is sketchy at best, though Tosches' streetwise-professor tone keeps the book from derailing entirely, and Nick's confrontation with the devil of the title is an entertainingly blackhearted look at one man's narcissism.

Grim, oversexed, arrogant, intense—Tosches’ protagonist has dumped out his id for all to see, narrative integrity be damned.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-12097-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

Did you like this book?

more