Next book

SO MUCH BLUE

The author’s deft plotting and wry wit sustain multiple levels of intrigue, not only about how each of the subplots resolves...

An artist ponders a painting he wants to keep private along with the back stories that inspired it, the secrets that continue to haunt him.

Everett (Half an Inch of Water, 2015, etc.) continues to wrestle with issues such as artistic identity and inspiration, the relation between artists and their art, the notions of what a narrator reveals and conceals, but rarely have the results been as engrossing as this. There are three separate plot strands, skillfully interwoven, each informing the others. In the present tense, protagonist Kevin Pace, the first-person narrator, is obsessed with a large, abstract painting, a work in progress that mixes various shades of blue. He eventually reveals that he's a recovering alcoholic, now a workaholic, absorbed in his painting and his memories while generally removed from his wife and children. Ten years earlier he had a passionate affair in Paris with a Frenchwoman much younger than he. Twenty years before that, he traveled with his best friend to El Salvador, then in the midst of violent revolution, to return his friend’s brother to the U.S. The brother was likely involved with drugs, almost certainly using them, perhaps smuggling and dealing them. While there, the artist saw and did things that he has never been able to confess to anyone, but when he returned, he was “distant. Different.” He was also committed to marrying the woman who noticed these differences in him, though he’d been unsure about marriage before he left. The story unfolds through short chapters that alternate among the three times and places as the reader learns more about the artist and his painting, but the artist also discovers more about himself: “Ten years earlier I had succumbed to a banal midlife crisis, but now I was falling victim to something far worse, a late-life revelation.”

The author’s deft plotting and wry wit sustain multiple levels of intrigue, not only about how each of the subplots resolves itself, but how they all fit together.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55597-782-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Categories:
Next book

HOUSE OF LEAVES

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and...

An amazingly intricate and ambitious first novel - ten years in the making - that puts an engrossing new spin on the traditional haunted-house tale.

Texts within texts, preceded by intriguing introductory material and followed by 150 pages of appendices and related "documents" and photographs, tell the story of a mysterious old house in a Virginia suburb inhabited by esteemed photographer-filmmaker Will Navidson, his companion Karen Green (an ex-fashion model), and their young children Daisy and Chad.  The record of their experiences therein is preserved in Will's film The Davidson Record - which is the subject of an unpublished manuscript left behind by a (possibly insane) old man, Frank Zampano - which falls into the possession of Johnny Truant, a drifter who has survived an abusive childhood and the perverse possessiveness of his mad mother (who is institutionalized).  As Johnny reads Zampano's manuscript, he adds his own (autobiographical) annotations to the scholarly ones that already adorn and clutter the text (a trick perhaps influenced by David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest) - and begins experiencing panic attacks and episodes of disorientation that echo with ominous precision the content of Davidson's film (their house's interior proves, "impossibly," to be larger than its exterior; previously unnoticed doors and corridors extend inward inexplicably, and swallow up or traumatize all who dare to "explore" their recesses).  Danielewski skillfully manipulates the reader's expectations and fears, employing ingeniously skewed typography, and throwing out hints that the house's apparent malevolence may be related to the history of the Jamestown colony, or to Davidson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dying Vietnamese child stalked by a waiting vulture.  Or, as "some critics [have suggested,] the house's mutations reflect the psychology of anyone who enters it."

The story's very ambiguity steadily feeds its mysteriousness and power, and Danielewski's mastery of postmodernist and cinema-derived rhetoric up the ante continuously, and stunningly.  One of the most impressive excursions into the supernatural in many a year.

Pub Date: March 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-70376-4

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2000

Categories:
Next book

OF MICE AND MEN

Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Steinbeck refuses to allow himself to be pigeonholed.

This is as completely different from Tortilla Flat and In Dubious Battle as they are from each other. Only in his complete understanding of the proletarian mentality does he sustain a connecting link though this is assuredly not a "proletarian novel." It is oddly absorbing this picture of the strange friendship between the strong man and the giant with the mind of a not-quite-bright child. Driven from job to job by the failure of the giant child to fit into the social pattern, they finally find in a ranch what they feel their chance to achieve a homely dream they have built. But once again, society defeats them. There's a simplicity, a directness, a poignancy in the story that gives it a singular power, difficult to define.  Steinbeck is a genius and an original.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1936

ISBN: 0140177396

Page Count: 83

Publisher: Covici, Friede

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1936

Categories:
Close Quickview