COCK-A-DOODLE-DO

Ambitious first novel from journalist Weiss, in which a nice- ish public-service lawyer almost loses all his nice ideals in not- so-nice New York. Now in his late 20s, narrator Jack Gold has spent the last four years working for a left-wing public-interest center in New York City. More recently he's been assisting the presidential campaign of an African-American candidate, but by the night of the Democratic Convention he's feeling idealistically burned-out. Just for a change, he accepts an invitation to a party given by the handsome former secretary of state, Early Quinlan, a conservative Democrat now running for the governorship of New York. At the party Jack meets and falls in love with Quinlan's daughter, Burry, a beautiful but flaky performance artist who is also Daddy's biggest fan. The two are immediately an item, both in sophisticated New York society and on the campaign trail. Jack leaves his job to undertake special projects for the Quinlan campaign—i.e., trying to dig up dirt on Republican gubernatorial candidate Joseph Vacca. Troubled by Quinlan's snobbish friends, Burry's disconcerting vagaries, and the callousness of the campaign's operatives, Jack finds himself increasingly sympathetic to Vacca, a sort of Cuomo/Giuliani composite. When not muckraking, Jack has a lot of sex, graphically described, smokes pot, and drinks too much. Both Burry and her dad, as well as politics in general, now seem shallow to him, and New York society is not much better. In the fall everything unravels at a set-piece campaign party, and a wiser Jack leaves town to live the simple life with his folks out west. Though Weiss tries hard to be funny as well as insightful, his political points and his characters, especially Jack, are more the stuff of clichÇ than high comedy or mordant political satire. An honorable try.

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-374-12515-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1995

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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