An evocative narrative of one thoughtful man’s American life in the 20th century, overshadowed by politics, sex, guilt, and...


How I Got to Yesterday


A book explores a Midwesterner’s boyhood, loves, losses, immersion in the 1960s protest movements in California, and ultimate recognition of a damaging drinking problem.

The author bills this work as “fictionalized memoir.” It ends up being somewhat of an addiction/recovery tale. Born into a traditional working-class Roman Catholic household in Missouri, the narrator—calling himself David Crobak—loses his World War II veteran father early to tuberculosis and feels betrayed when his struggling single mother, haunted by a family history of suicide, uproots and moves to the Cleveland suburbs with a new, unreliable husband. Significantly, they open a small saloon business. David is a bookish youngster, as thrilled by literature and film as by the girls he hormonally pursues in high school and college in Ohio. Eschewing a liberal arts career, the hero gains a stable job with the post office and a less-stable marriage that takes him to California, where he experiences the ’60s protest movements and upheavals. Throughout, he indulges in the seemingly minor vices of racetrack betting, indulging in casual affairs, and drinking. While his marriage apparently crumbles amid mutual anomie and feminism, David gradually realizes that he suffers from alcoholism and grudgingly seeks help (no longer religious, he decides that the “higher power” is the collective will of the group members in a meeting). The way that Sedlock (The Nightdream, 1974) backs gracefully into the addiction topic saves the material from becoming 12-step program pamphleteering (although he has nothing but compliments for Alcoholics Anonymous). The narrator refuses to wallow in self-pity or blame any single trauma, bad gene, or setback (and there seem to have been a few) for his liquor habit, although in middle age, an amends-making trek to his Missouri hometown (now drug-ravaged) sorts out the truth from long-held misconceptions and inaccurate memories. It leaves him feeling that going to Cleveland probably was indeed a bad idea. Sedlock’s prose (especially when evoking childhood) is as sharp, glittering, and dead-on as the edges of a broken bottle, and he shows considerable generosity of spirit in granting even minor background figures deep inner lives and intellect.

An evocative narrative of one thoughtful man’s American life in the 20th century, overshadowed by politics, sex, guilt, and too many Happy Hours.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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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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