Hautman goes head-to-head against Carl Hiassen’s Lucky You with his own hilarious take on the larcenous lemmings that swarm around a lottery winner. Why shouldn’t sweet, tough, innocent Barbaraannette Quinn, the second-grade teacher who for years has been playing permutations of her relatives’ birthdays in Powerball, rake in an $8.9 million windfall? And why shouldn’t she impulsively decide, confronted by TV cameras outside the lottery office, to offer a million-dollar reward for the return of her husband Bobby? After all, Bobby’s not exactly estranged, he’s just been AWOL for six years. And now, living as boot salesman Bobby Steele with voluptuous, good-natured Phlox Anderson in Tucson, he gets wind of his wife’s offer within seconds and decides to turn himself in for the reward, figuring he’ll put off worrying about what he’s going to do about the women in his life till after he’s got the greenbacks in his hand. But more pressing complications ensue. Reaching his hometown of Cold Rock, Minnesota, Bobby’s immediately spotted by ethereally beautiful, deeply sociopathic con man Jayjay Morrow, who’s happy to interrupt his routine of writing lying, cadging letters to celebrities and sponging off his latest admirer, the besotted Professor AndrÇ Gideon, to kidnap Bobby and hold him for ransom. Feisty Barbaraannette, the daughter of Hautman semi-regular Sam O’Gara (The Mortal Nuts, 1996, etc.), doesn’t take this development lying down. And neither does Phlox, or Barbaraannette-smitten bank officer Art Dobbleman, or those Henry High ex-football players Hugh Hulke and Rodney Gent. You can try to imagine what sorts of things happen next, though you’ll be two steps behind Hautman. If Hautman’s line-by-line writing is less joyously baroque than Hiassen’s—and it’s an awfully close race—his powers of invention and dexterity are even greater as he provides delightfully unexpected roles for Jayjay, Phlox, Gideon, and Barbaraannette’s senile mother Hilde Grabo.

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-83243-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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