Subjective perspectives in a fictionalized portrait of a disappeared architect.
Beckley’s debut details the life of architect Robert A. Michael, who disappeared and possibly committed suicide. Michael embodied the ego and genius of modernism, but also its uncompromising excess. With an almost megalomaniacal personality, he ordered his life to his own specifications; when the world didn’t respond with recognition, he left it. Though his lavish lifestyle included fancy cars and incredibly expensive originals of famous furniture designs from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, his personal life was fraught with issues: In her chapter, his first wife reveals multiple affairs; his daughter details the demands he required for the house he designed for her; he seduced his publicist; he invited a colleague to an interview seemingly in order to use her skin color to secure a project. Michael’s designs, though beautiful, required huge expense—and huge sacrifice. His love of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and its protagonist, Howard Roark, ended in disappointment as he slowly realized that the age of the heroic architects he idolized was over, steamrolled by selection committees, predatory real estate deals and weak press. By fictionalizing the narration as first-person accounts of friends, family and colleagues, Beckley provides a unique insight into Michael’s character, preferring to make him an outsider in his own story. Stylistically, Beckley achieves a kind of compromise between journalistic distance and empathy: “Robert abruptly pulled into a drive whose massive iron gates opened as if at his command. The gates closed behind us as I thought, Robert now has his prey.” However, many of the “interviews” feel inconsequential; they sometimes include various references to simple troubles, such as work complaints, while summarizing instead of creating powerful scenes: “The place I was working had really neat people who held potluck dinners every other Friday night where everyone would bring their kids and pitch in and we’d talk about what we were reading, smoke some pot, and drink cheap wine.” For much of the work, Michael’s disappearance and death feel like peripheral concerns, though many readers will find those concerns among the story’s most intriguing.
An extended human interest piece in the guise of a multiple-perspective novel, made tired by its mundane plots.

Pub Date: May 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491734452

Page Count: 182

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2014

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...


Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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