A compellingly readable contemporary fantasia set in a vivid New York of the mind.

Bunyan's Guide to the Great American Wildlife

A novel follows a man and a woman in the wilderness of New York City.

The two main characters in this tale, John Bunyan and Felicity Fawkler, first meet at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park in 2009. She’s an expat Brit of ancient lineage (she tells readers that her family “almost had a stitch in the Bayeux Tapestry”), or as John puts it, “Church of England, slender, little beanpole, waxy pallor of a holy relic, blush of a broken nose, cupid bow lips, preternatural and possibly, yes probably, possessed.” John himself is a hipster-style, fedora-wearing, struggling writer with a passion for the wilderness and a fascination with the animal dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History. John’s father is an antiquarian art dealer specializing in maps and medieval texts. Felicity becomes drawn to John immediately, despite the shadowy presence in his life of another woman, named Willow, a lonely and troubled soul whose childhood diaries readers sometimes peruse—they describe her grandfather’s friend Broady as a cryptozoologist. She hears stories of “Fearsome Critters” like the mangrove killfish, the snalygaster, and so on. (Broady asks the 9-year-old Willow: “I thought everyone knew what a Fillyloo is?”) Canterel (The Jolly Coroner, 2016) weaves together the stories of John and Felicity with a good deal of skill at handling the very elliptical nature of his narrative, which shifts viewpoint and time frame in a series of strange, surrealist moves. Through it all run two constants: the great wildlife guide John is composing and New York, a location Canterel adroitly reimagines as a sprawling wonderland in which anything is possible. “Even you, John, would agree that New York is a strange place at five in the morning,” John muses in a typical observation. “It’s almost as if the place shouldn’t exist. It is a city between two worlds.” As his slightly manic plot unfolds, Canterel deftly builds tension around John’s relationship with the enigmatic Willow, leading to long-telegraphed revelations at the book’s end.

A compellingly readable contemporary fantasia set in a vivid New York of the mind.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-911079-47-7

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Acorn Independent Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

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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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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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