ESCARDY GAP

Very long fantasy/horror debut novel that doesn't pick up steam for 250 pages, then becomes passably inventive of its kind. Crowther and Lovegrove's story burdens itself with a dreary, clichÇ-strewn opening (a novel-within-the-novel) about an old, self-pitying, burned-out Manhattan novelist suffering with writer's block. When he does suddenly begin to write again, he tells about the arrival of a mysterious train at Escardy Gap, an idyllic village. For the next several hundred pages, the authors paste together genre banalities; Escardy Gap itself is a flimsy site, filled with stereotypical townsfolk/murder victims. The train brings a fairly (by contrast) distinct crew of demons, called The Company, who are deceptively pleasant before they begin maiming, disembowelling, or poisoning the innocent people who welcome them into their homes. Their leader is the aimless but murderous Jeremiah Rackstraw. His troupe includes Mr. Olesqui, a midget who kills with tobacco smoke; Boy, whose handless arms create their own forms of energy; Buzz Beaumont, who spews great fireballs of electricity; Agnes Destiny, who trails bunches of limp phalli (her own) along the floor; Clarence, a shapechanger who can mimic anybody or reinvent himself as a monster; Felcher the poisoner; and rhymester Neville N. Nolan, Rackstaw's Ariel, who can transform himself into a giant horsefly with gemlike eyes, capable of finding anyone anywhere. Also appearing: Alecto, Atrops, and Aegle, ravishingly beautiful Man-eaters who give new meaning to the term vagina dentata. The more-or-less heroine is beautiful young Sara Sienkeiwicz, who publishes stories in Weird Tales and, like Faulkner's Eula Mae Varner, drives all men mad. Her role is entirely passive, since the old writer (who increasingly loses control of his own story to The Company) tries to frustrate the efforts of his own youthful hero, Josh Knight, to save her, preserving Sara for himself. Lighthearted butchery, an intermittently lively dance around the maypole staged in an abattoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-86210-5

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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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

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