A short but sweet tale that arrives in a foreseeable place, but provides an enjoyable journey on the way there.

THE JUGGLER

In Farrara’s (The Royal Flush, 2012) latest fictional work, a former circus performer comes to terms with the successes and wasted opportunities of his youth when a reporter promises to thrust him back into the spotlight.

Clyde Herring is no longer the world-famous juggler he once was. His career with the Barrington Brothers Circus spanned from 1945 to 1989, and he was once a talented violinist and war hero, but now he lives alone in a shabby apartment in Reading, Pennsylvania. He never saved any money, nor did he ever marry or have children, although he did love someone once—Julie Pullman, now one of the richest and most successful women in the world. But the two haven’t seen each other in years, and the elderly Clyde has little else in his life, other than his daily routine and vodka. When it’s announced that the Barrington Brothers Circus is coming back to town, local sportswriter John Ryan gets the assignment to write a feature on Clyde. John’s goals are to increase publicity for both the circus and the newspaper, and to explore what Clyde has been doing with his life since 1965, when the paper published its first article about the juggler. Clyde later experienced a disastrous, drunken fall that ended his career and sent him into a downward spiral. The author deftly weaves together the threads of Clyde’s life, introducing bits of his past and present to reveal the consequences of the decisions he’s made over the years. The juggler isn’t the abject alcoholic that readers might expect, however. Instead, Farrara shows how Clyde brings a spark of cheerful humor to all of his interactions, balancing his melancholy with a refreshing self-awareness that will keep readers eager to see how his story turns out. Although the plot is a simple one, and often veers into predictability, it doesn’t make the juggler’s life story any less engaging.

A short but sweet tale that arrives in a foreseeable place, but provides an enjoyable journey on the way there.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1434937285

Page Count: 98

Publisher: Dorrance

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2014

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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