In The First Wives Club (1992), Goldsmith was like a dog with a bone on the subject of rotten husbands; in her second novel, she's latched onto another theme that's almost as meaty: Hollywood, which she masticates with characteristic wicked glee. This twisted tale is about three women who become megastars- -thanks to a TV show featuring a trio of dolls adventuring through the Sixties on motorcycles. They are: gorgeous, smart, and talented Jahne Moore, who used to be chunky, ugly Mary Jane Moran before she hired a surgeon to take the scalpel to her; Sharleen Smith, who flees a Texas trailer park after her brother kills her abusive father; and Lila Kyle, daughter of a Joan Crawford-like star who grows up to be as vicious as her mommie dearest. The three are like spitting cats during production, and when Jahne lands a movie Lila wanted, things get worse, with Lila hiring a p.i. to get the dirt on her costars. Meanwhile, Jahne has reclaimed the guy who dumped her back in her Broadway gypsy days; but when he learns about her surgery scars, he turns her big film debut into a porn show by hiring a double to do a graphic sex scene that Jahne knows nothing about until she sees the final cut. And poor Sharleen isn't happy in L.A.—particularly when her long-lost mother shows up permanently hitched to a bottle of booze. The dirt on Jahne and Sharleen hits the rags eventually, and it looks as if Lila will walk away the winner—until she gets snagged in a sordid secret of her own. Goldsmith runs amok in Hollywood—and bores for about two hundred pages in the middle—but at the close, she pulls out all the stops, redeeming herself in a wild, over-the-top way. On Hollywood, Thomas Tryon is more touching, and Nathanael West more literate—but no one can touch Goldsmith for gusto.

Pub Date: May 31, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-79449-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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