Limp, see-through adventures of an age-obsessed, out-of-shape mope who needs to get a life.

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A RELATIVELY YOUNG MAN

Featherweight third title in Svenson’s “Budge Moss” series (after Wrongful Reconciliation, 2005) tracks the self-absorbed aging writer as he contemplates—again—cheating on his older girlfriend.

From moving to Rock Hall, Md., to lick his wounds after a divorce (Washed Up with a Broken Heart in Rock Hall, 2004), to finding hospitality with Matty, a well-off, near-80 Republican golfer, 60-ish Budge Moss isn’t doing badly for a writer whose work has been relegated to the remainders heap. But in diary entries that intrude on the novel, Moss asserts his restlessness. Although feeling like a pig in clover living in Matty’s gated-community pad, with larder stocked and Matty’s nightly cooking to grow fat on, Moss can’t get over the age discrepancy between him and his lover, and that she golfs all the time, leaving him alone. And his writing has “devolved into this dull quotidian, when all I do is shuffle words . . . falling prey to remorse about unattainable desires.” On a whim, Moss drives to Canada with his cat, Ragu, and tries to get a job at a university in Kingston, passing himself off as John Updike. Later, a local university requests his participation in a writing conference on “The Relevance of Writers Whose Books Are Out of Print.” At the conference, Moss meets and flirts with a plumpish feminist author from Canada, Kara Umber, who invites Moss and Matty to her family cottage. They go for a weekend, and Moss finds himself skinny-dipping at night in Elderberry Lake, aroused by the “rubbery erotic volume” of Kara’s buoyant breasts. Moss shows himself to be a cad, with too much time on his hands and few interests.

Limp, see-through adventures of an age-obsessed, out-of-shape mope who needs to get a life.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007

ISBN: 1-57962-147-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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