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LIGHT AT DUSK

Strongly written in language gray as a Paris rainfall, with moral ambiguities heavy as mist.

A lyrically detailed gay suspense novel, with romance and suspense sharing interest equally.

Will Law has quit the American foreign service after, tragically, going too far out on a limb in his Mexican posting. Seven years after their breakup, he writes his ex-lover Pedro in Paris that he’d like to see him again. Pedro, the narrator, is an art historian focusing on French architecture. He and Will spend their first three days together in bed, then go out into a bread riot backed by the ultra-rightist French Front, which wants the immigrant laws reversed—and more white Gallic babies for voting purposes. Will’s father was a top FS officer, and one of Dad’s friends has gone to great trouble to get Will reinstated in the service, with a new posting in Jakarta, but he’d be a spy. Gadol’s (The Long Rain, 1997, etc.) backgrounding in FS adds much to Will’s weight on the page. Before Will can back out of the new assignment, he meets an American, Jorie Cole, and Nico, the four-year-old son of her Lebanese lover, now in Nigeria. The skinheads from the French Front have been doing dastardly things to dark-skinned immigrants, and, as Jorie stands talking with Will, some chain-wielding skinhead terrorists swoop down on Nico and kidnap him. All kids who have earlier been kidnapped, as the French police know, eventually have been returned unharmed. As an American, Jorie is especially disillusioned about raising Nico in France, where, despite being born there, he’s not a citizen, is subjected to racial slurs daily, and has almost no rights. Will helps her through the police questioning and tries to save Nico. One good act helping Jorie recover Nico, Will thinks, will turn his life around after his Mexican fiasco. Success will, however, have its fatal demands.

Strongly written in language gray as a Paris rainfall, with moral ambiguities heavy as mist.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-20336-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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