THE COVER ARTIST

Another refreshingly literate and witty novel by Micou (The Music Programme, 1990), whose chronicle of a hapless young man at the mercy of a worldly and often corrupt society is gratifyingly reminiscent of Waugh and Wodehouse. When his nude caricatures of famous figures made the eponymously named magazine Lowdown a surprising success, New Yorker Oscar Lemoine, accompanied by Elizabeth, his extraordinary Labrador, fled to the south of France. There, he hoped to work in peace and ``cultivate the more extroverted personality that would be required to carry on in New York, if he ever chose to return.'' Now, while back in New York for a brief and ultimately cathartic visit, he recalls his experiences in the small resort town of Val d`Argent. Exquisitely blind to the reality of the resort residents' lives, Lemoine had fallen in love with the beautiful Veronique, the darling of the local jet-set. Unaware that she was married to the sinister and ancient Herr Dohrmann, whom Lemoine took to be her father, his pursuit was fraught with the usual comic consequences of mistaken identity. But what raises Lemoine's story above the potentially banal is Elizabeth, his guardian angel, his confidante, and finally his savior. Elizabeth, wise in the ways of man, also paints somber examples of Canine Expressionism, which are received with great acclaim. Affected by the increasing crudeness of Lowdown, Lemoine again resigns and decides to live in France permanently, but further disillusionment awaits him there—only Elizabeth's final loving gift offers some hope. Micou deftly chronicles the absurdities of fashion and society, and, while wittily recounting this rite of passage, he also writes a moving love story of a man and his dog.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-72938-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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