MRS. MILLION

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

more