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

PRIME

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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