A quietly competent tale, with a few surprises, gentle humor, and a good feel for the journalist’s milieu, though ultimately...

THE OBITUARY WRITER

When a sexy young widow comes on to him, a naïve cub reporter with big dreams perks up—then finds he’s gotten more than he bargained for, in this soft-spoken, mildly diverting debut from anthology editor Shreve.

Gordie is 22 and trying to fill the big shoes of his father, a famous Chicago journalist who died when Gordie was five. So Gordie starts small, as junior member of the obituary desk at the St. Louis Independent. He’s already put his ambition into practical use by creating a file of obits for not-yet-dead celebrities when a call comes from a local woman whose Irish wolfhound-breeding banker husband has just died. The widow, Alicia, wants a big spread, but when it becomes apparent that she wants much more, Gordie, after laying eyes on her, is only too happy to oblige. Before long the two are cavorting in the bed she once shared with the dearly departed, and, almost as soon, Gordie is helping her sell everything to begin a new life—with him. Meanwhile, his obit file having been discovered and condemned by his publisher, Gordie turns to other possibilities for advancing his career. He visits a late-night crime scene, which proves more ghoulish than gratifying, then, for inspiration, decides to visit Dallas, where his father hit pay dirt so many years before with the Kennedy assassination. He goes there also to check up on Alicia’s past, since seeds of doubt about her have been planted by her dead husband’s sister, and what Gordie finds gives him much food for thought. Back in St. Louis, Alicia, for all her sexiness, is becoming increasingly unstable, and Gordie has to resort to extreme measures to extricate himself—generating in the process the story of a lifetime.

A quietly competent tale, with a few surprises, gentle humor, and a good feel for the journalist’s milieu, though ultimately with nothing to make it more than adequate in its telling.

Pub Date: June 7, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-98132-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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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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