A melodramatic but engaging tale of resentment, redemption, and revenge.

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INFAMOUS 1

A new-adult sports novel tells the story of a young man pulled back into the dangerous world of street hoops.

Troy Blake was not necessarily cut out for commercial fishing—particularly catching king crab in the freezing and stormy waters of the Bering Sea—but at least it’s keeping him out of trouble. Only a year ago, Troy was a freshman point guard on the Arizona Southern College basketball team. He moonlighted as “The Outlaw,” the star of the one-on-one Extreme Hoops League: “A hoops spectacle that rewards aggressive, in-your-face jams, where refs rarely call fouls, and hacking, charging, and fighting are key to a baller’s arsenal.” Serving on the fishing boat fulfills his probation for accidentally killing a player in a street game gone awry, though the aggression of some of his crewmates tests his new commitment to anger management. As his probation ends, Troy is hoping to go back to school and maybe pursue a relationship with a girl he meets in Alaska. But all his plans go out the window when he gets news from Arizona that his brother, Billy, has been murdered. Getting revenge will mean rushing headlong back into his turbulent past, and this time, if he kills someone, it won’t be accidental. West’s (Some Never Forget, 2017, etc.) prose is as fast and punchy as his protagonist’s game, as here, where Troy sizes up an opponent from a more privileged background than his own: “Probably went to some private school in Scottsdale. You’d bet your momma’s food stamps and your father’s epic Metallica record collection that Socks’ mother drove him to basketball practice in her fancy Mercedes Benz and made sure he always had the latest LeBron Zooms.” The plot is fairly ridiculous—Troy never wants to fight, but people just keep forcing him to defend himself. Even so, the dual macho subcultures of commercial fishing and street basketball make for compelling milieus. The result is a novel that is highly readable even if, in the end, it’s little more than an escapist fantasy.

A melodramatic but engaging tale of resentment, redemption, and revenge.

Pub Date: April 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9895396-4-7

Page Count: 245

Publisher: Molon Labe Books

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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