LOVE ENTER

Young Americans in contemporary Paris, walking a fine line between friendship and love: the idea sounds irresistible, yet for all the care Kafka has taken with his second fiction (following the novella Home Again—not reviewed), it stubbornly refuses to fly. Meet Dan and Beck (straight males, roommates) and Margot and Bou (gay women, lovers). The four of them are on an expatriate high, digging Paris, mixing their medical studies with jazz (Beck and Margot have regular gigs) and modern dance (Dan has joined a company). (Their story is being told by Dan four years later, when they have all dispersed and Dan is helping deliver babies in New Orleans; hospital scenes are awkwardly juxtaposed with memories of Paris.) When Dan meets the two women, he falls in love with them both, ``not indistinguishably but inseparably, and always,'' cherishing their relationship. Things don't stay that high-flown, and Dan doesn't stay that starry-eyed, for all along he has been more attracted to Bou, the tall exotic New Englander, than to the more familiar Margot, like Dan a middle-class Jewish only child. Dan and Bou sleep together; Margot is predictably upset, calling Dan ``a first-class shit,'' while acknowledging that Bou always wanted ``a guy on the side.'' Then Dan discovers that Beck, too, has been sleeping with Bou, and the four-way friendship collapses like a house of cards. A busy surface (Kafka sets his scenes meticulously) but a hollow center: this aseptic love story gives off no erotic heat at all. And the characters are fuzzy: Margot is conspicuously short- changed, almost disappearing, and it's not clear whether Bou is an ``innocent menace'' or simply a tramp.

Pub Date: May 5, 1993

ISBN: 0-395-60478-8

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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