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PRIME

Food writing to die for, but little humor in the seasoning.

Feisty horror stylist Brite—of 1992’s Lost Souls, still her best—returns with a sequel to Liquor (2004).

Previously, two young gays, Rickey and G-man, opened their own restaurant in New Orleans and based their entire menu on fancy booze-flavored dishes. Here, it’s two years later, and they’ve become famous, as has Liquor, with great reviews in the New York Times and Gourmet. But now a local review by Humphrey Wildblood seems to trash the restaurant while really trashing shady chef Lenny Duveteaux, whose investment in Liquor makes him part-owner. Actually, the bad review has been prompted by New Orleans DA Placide Treat, who, despite being admired during his 24 years in office, fears that Lenny’s personal lawyer, Oscar De La Cerda, will give him a strong run for office. Treat, it happens, unleashed his son Humphrey Wildblood (a nom de plume) onto Liquor. Rickey and G-man want to buy Lenny out and own Liquor wholly but haven’t the cash. When Texas zillionaire Fred Firestone, who owns the failing Firestone restaurant in Dallas, offers Rickey $10,000 for a week’s consultancy in Dallas, Rickey at first thinks no, but when the wiring of Liquor’s old cooler setup fails and heavy expense arises for a new cooler, he chooses to take up the offer. Lenny, meanwhile, has been arrested by DA Treat and had his ten years of taped telephone calls impounded. When critic Wildblood returns for another meal, he and Rickey have a fuming face-off, with Wildblood making Rickey an offer to give evidence against Lenny. Soon Rickey’s off to Dallas to help award-winning chef and author Cooper Stark straighten out his Dallas menu. After getting raves for his help, he returns to the Big Easy only to hear that Coop has killed himself and willed Rickey his entire estate, including an apartment house. What is it that links Fred Firestone in Dallas to DA Placide Treat?

Food writing to die for, but little humor in the seasoning.

Pub Date: March 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-4000-5008-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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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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