A friend-triangle so busy with the bright lights of the big city that it never quite decides whether to be a fun read or a...

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SHAMELESS

Two gay men and their pseudo-hag go looking for love and drugs in the London club scene.

It’s not surprising that British author Burston acknowledges Russell T. Davies here, since this debut is so clearly influenced by Davies’ fizzy UK TV show Queer as Folk. It could almost have used some of the same characters’ names. Readers may think at first that the story is going to be about 32-year-old Martin, whom we meet in the opening pages as he is slowly realizing that Christopher, his serious boyfriend, has just left him after acquiring a new, gymed-up physique and the wandering eyes to go with it. Martin’s best mate John—a flighty flight attendant who’s mentally a 15-year-old, with a sense of caring compassion to match—is sort of sorry for him, but not really, and he uses Martin’s newly single status as an excuse to drag him out to every club and bar in town so John can show off his new drug-dealer boyfriend Fernando. The third in this little triangle is Martin’s friend Caroline, a Vogue-ready young professional about town with a boyfriend, Graham, whom she’s convinced is gay, and a mounting coke habit. None of them seems terribly bright, but they do like their drugs, and a good chunk of the tale is filled by Martin and John’s wild, Ecstasy-soaked escapades. Meanwhile, Caroline spins around in her own insecure orbit. She drives the actually quite heterosexual Graham away by trying to out him at a family dinner, and then her boss catches her doing lines on her mousepad. Although he gives Martin the denouement, Burston seems more emotionally invested in Caroline’s character, relegating John and Martin to their own stunted immaturity.

A friend-triangle so busy with the bright lights of the big city that it never quite decides whether to be a fun read or a morality tale. It ends up a slick but unrewarding mix of the two.

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-446-69133-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2004

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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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Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

ALMOST JUST FRIENDS

Piper Manning is determined to sell her family’s property so she can leave her hometown behind, but when her siblings come back with life-changing secrets and her sexy neighbor begins to feel like “The One,” she might have to redo her to-do list.

As children, Piper and her younger siblings, Gavin and Winnie, were sent to live with their grandparents in Wildstone, California, from the Congo after one of Gavin’s friends was killed. Their parents were supposed to meet them later but never made it. Piper wound up being more of a parent than her grandparents, though: “In the end, Piper had done all the raising. It’d taken forever, but now, finally, her brother and sister were off living their own lives.” Piper, the queen of the bullet journal, plans to fix up the family’s lakeside property her grandparents left the three siblings when they died. Selling it will enable her to study to be a physician’s assistant as she’s always wanted. However, just as the goal seems in sight, Gavin and Winnie come home, ostensibly for Piper’s 30th birthday, and then never leave. Turns out, Piper’s brother and sister have recently managed to get into a couple buckets of trouble, and they need some time to reevaluate their options. They aren’t willing to share their problems with Piper, though they’ve been completely open with each other. And Winnie, who’s pregnant, has been very open with Piper’s neighbor Emmitt Reid and his visiting son, Camden, since the baby’s father is Cam’s younger brother, Rowan, who died a few months earlier in a car accident. Everyone has issues to navigate, made more complicated by Gavin and Winnie’s swearing Cam to secrecy just as he and Piper try—and fail—to ignore their attraction to each other. Shalvis keeps the physical and emotional tension high, though the siblings’ refusal to share with Piper becomes tedious and starts to feel childish.

Shalvis’ latest retains her spark and sizzle.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296139-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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