An intriguing if ultimately frustrating blend of sci-fi and New Age philosophy.

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Day of Forgiveness

In this contemplative sci-fi—the prequel to Love, Light and Labor (1995)—Anthony offers an enticing glimpse into a more utopian Earth.

This novel introduces readers to Tobias Sinclair, a lawyer-turned-author-turned–reluctant savior of the human race. At first, Tobias is a scuffling New-Age hack, on the road promoting his latest book. But a knock on his head during a mugging gives him a whole new perspective on the universe, which he then takes to “the people of the earth.” That’s because, as he explains, Tobias feels a sense of urgency to help them survive: “I continue to think that somehow we will all die, or at least our society will die, if we don’t restructure the way we view ourselves.” The bulk of the novel finds Tobias, aided by friends Mill and Jimmy, attempting to bring others around to his humanistic way of thinking as he perpetually runs into self-interest and sectarianism while espousing forgiveness and togetherness. He says exasperatedly, “If we continue to kill and mistreat one another, we will be a doomed species.” Then, in an unexpected but worthwhile twist, extraterrestrials reveal themselves to Tobias. While the aliens applaud his lofty goals, they fear he’s revealing too much too soon for the humans to process. As alien spokesman Stokes says, “They don’t like change, and they just think of you as a dangerous threat.” Tobias works well as a flawed protagonist who can’t seem to heal his own fractured family while striving to save humanity. His friends are serviceable sidekicks, but most of the other characters are merely faceless, intransigent opposition. Anthony offers thought-provoking ideas, yet, with too much philosophy and not enough action, the novel seems much longer than it is. It’s hard to save people from themselves if they’ve stopped listening early in the sermon.

An intriguing if ultimately frustrating blend of sci-fi and New Age philosophy.

Pub Date: May 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9743600-2-7

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Paul Anthony Corley

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

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

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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

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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