For all its incidental charms, one of Price’s lesser novels, scattered and indecisive.


Death hovers over an anxious homecoming in the venerable southern writer’s 14th novel.

Mabry Kincaid is flying back home from Europe to New York on September 11, 2001, when his plane is diverted to Nova Scotia. It will be days before the 53-year-old art conservator finds out whether his loft, just blocks from the Twin Towers, is still intact. On impulse Mabry returns to his family home in North Carolina, where his father, a retired Episcopalian priest, is in bad shape. Price (Noble Norfleet, 2002, etc.) lures the reader with a number of maybes rather than a plot. Tasker Kincaid may be at death’s door; son Mabry may be diagnosed soon with multiple sclerosis; the painting he collected in Paris for a WTC client (now presumed dead) may conceal a priceless van Gogh sketch. Only one of these matters gets resolved. Tasker at least is in good hands, tended by Audrey and her teenaged son, Marcus, black folks long linked to the Kincaids. But who will tend to Mabry, who’s experiencing temporary blindness and numbness? His wife died back in April, and he’s estranged from daughter Charlotte. That’s Mabry’s fault; he cheated on his wife so often she threw him out when Charlotte was 12. But his faults don’t keep self-pity from welling up, especially after Tasker admits that his greatest love was for Mabry’s brother, Gabriel, killed years before in a hunting accident. Very much in the Price mold, this is a tale of family ties, broken but partially restored, of confessions and reconciliations. It’s not only Mabry who couldn’t keep his pants zipped: Tasker confesses to once taking advantage of three female parishioners; young Marcus confesses to impregnating his cousin at age 15. Yet the churning emotions lack a strong narrative framework, and Mabry’s hand-wringing over his possible MS symptoms becomes tedious, as does the warmed-over angst following 9/11, including a scene close to Ground Zero.

For all its incidental charms, one of Price’s lesser novels, scattered and indecisive.

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-5400-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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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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