An insightful—frequently funny, often devastating—meditation on human existence online and off.

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Debut novel from the internet-famous poet and author of the memoir Priestdaddy (2017).

Lockwood first made a name for herself on Twitter: “@parisreview So is Paris any good or not.” Such was the acclaim of this 2013 tweet that the Paris Review felt compelled to respond to it—a year after it was first posted—with a review of Paris. In 2013, Lockwood achieved a new level of web-based fame when “Rape Joke” went viral. This poem seems, in retrospect, to have been perfectly calibrated for a moment when people—mostly young or youngish, largely online—were asking themselves who gets to talk about what and how. But it also succeeds—and continues to succeed—as a work of literature. All of this is to say that Lockwood is very much of the internet but also, perhaps, our guide to moving beyond thinking of the internet as a thing apart from real lives and real art. Her debut novel is divided into two parts. The first introduces us to a nameless protagonist who makes up famous tweets and composes blog posts and turns this into a career traveling the world talking about tweets and blog posts. In the second part, this character goes back to her family home when she learns that the baby her sister is carrying has a profound congenital disorder. The first part is written in short little bursts that feel like Instagram captions or texts—but if Lydia Davis was writing Instagram captions and texts. The second part is written in short little bursts that feel like they’re being written in spare moments snatched while caring for an infant. (Again, Lydia Davis comes to mind.) This bifurcation mirrors the protagonist’s own meditations on the difference between the life that she chooses online and the life that comes crashing in on her, but it’s a mistake to imagine that this novel is simply an indictment of the former and a celebration of the latter. The woman at the center of this novel doesn’t trade ironic laughter for soul-shattering awe so much as she reveals that both can coexist in the same life and that, sometimes, they may be indistinguishable.

An insightful—frequently funny, often devastating—meditation on human existence online and off.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18958-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.


Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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