MY LIFE AS A MAN

The opener here — one of two stories which goes by the name of "Useful Fictions" — is by Peter Tarnopol and about Nathan Zuckerman who is of course Peter Tarnopol who is of course Philip Roth recording his life as a man already only too recognizable as that of the mensch manque — the Jewish boy from New Jersey who was such a public nuisance in the public library and such a misfit in the Army and who became "the golden boy of American literature" (1959 — hello, goodbye) and then went on to teach in a midwestern college where he became hopelessly entrammeled with two women. I.e. — the basis of what will be shamefully appropriated as useful non-fiction (a case study) by Dr. Spielvogel who also reappears and considers him "among the top young narcissists in the arts." Thus a series of reprises finds Peter Tarnopol dividing his time almost equally between his analysis and his writing and Maureen who trapped him into marriage (that urine specimen she took off a black woman in Tompkins Park) — Maureen who beleaguers him and berates him ("Find'em-fuck'em and forget'em Flaubert") through the years in which she refuses him a divorce although there's Susan, popping pills "like M & M's" but cooking him marvelous gourmet meals and waiting — waiting — waiting like another one of those ballbreaking Clytemnestras. . . This then, baldly and barely basted together, is Roth's very own kind of Jewish intellectual slapshtick, worked and reworked from earlier sources and all going back to that primal motherlode of neurosis which has led him through other areas of "erotic anthropology" to further difficulties entailing either making it or letting go. However familiar or strenuous, there is that bravura and this is the funniest book he's written since Portnoy. So Nu, "Let's begin.

Pub Date: June 3, 1974

ISBN: 067974827X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK

This new Baldwin novel is told by a 19-year-old black girl named Tish in a New York City ghetto about how she fell in love with a young black man, Fonny. He got framed on a rape charge and she got pregnant before they could marry and move into their loft; but Tish and her family Finance a trip to Puerto Rico to track down the rape victim and rescue Fonny, a sculptor with slanted eyes and treasured independence. The book is anomalous for the 1970's with its Raisin in the Sun wholesomeness. It is sometimes saccharine, but it possesses a genuinely sweet and free spirit too. Along with the reflex sprinkles of hate-whitey, there are powerful showdowns between the two black families, and a Frieze of people who — unlike Fonny's father — gave up and "congregated on the garbage heaps of their lives." The style wobbles as Tish mixes street talk with lyricism and polemic and a bogus kind of Young Adult hesitancy. Baldwin slips past the conflict between fighting the garbage heap and settling into a long-gone private chianti-chisel-and-garret idyll, as do Fonny and Tish and the baby. But Baldwin makes the affirmation of the humanity of black people which is all too missing in various kinds of Superfly and sub-fly novels.

Pub Date: May 24, 1974

ISBN: 0307275930

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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