ANNIE OAKLEY'S GIRL

Brown's fourth (The Terrible Girls, 1992, etc.) mixes fantasy, conjecture, and some realism in seven stories that feature atmospheric neo-feminist allegories and fables. The two longest pieces are the most striking: ``Annie'' (originally published in Adam Mars-Jones's Mae West is Dead: Recent Lesbian & Gay Fiction) is about the narrator's love affair with Annie Oakley—it's part historical pastiche, part touching daydream, and part biting satire. Juxtaposing the narrator's western daydreams with grittier realism, Brown manages to force upon her narrator the kind of rude awakening best displayed by Tim O'Brien in Going after Cacciato. She also has a good deal of fun along the way: in one instance, Annie Oakley signs autographs at Saks—``the release of her authorized biography coincides with the arrival of the special line of new fall fashions—Annie Oakley Western Wear.'' ``A Good Man'' (which first appeared in Joan Nestle and Naomi Holoch's Women on Women II) is a tribute to a decent man dying of AIDS, nursed off and on by his lesbian friend; the striking ``Folie a Deux'' posits a couple who deliberately cripple themselves—one deaf, one blind—so that ``Each of us had something the other didn't have''; and the remaining four stories, published in Britain in 1984, are dreamlike fables. In the best, ``Love Poem,'' the narrator and ``you,'' an artist (the second person becomes a tic in several of these), sneak into the Tate and destroy the artist's work; ``The Joy of Marriage'' is a touching but ideological look at a honeymoon; ``Grief'' is about a woman sent off by her clique to a foreign country—she never returns. Occasionally moving, the story's too obliquely personal to make enough sense to a wider audience. Imagistic, edgy fictions about postmodern longing in a world off its screws—and where sadness seems to be a woman's only fate.

Pub Date: June 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-87286-279-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

Did you like this book?

more