ANIMAL ACTS

Put this in the ``We haven't seen this topic before'' category: A woman finds herself only after she leaves her husband and her lover for a gorilla. Linda Morris is not happy: ``Whenever I felt I could no longer bear another moment of my marriage I would imagine my husband's funeral....'' In fact, Linda loves her affluent, entrepreneurial husband, Steven, but their relationship survives because they never probe it too deeply. For excitement, Linda has a lover she doesn't even like named John Banks, who may be an assassin. Linda's real problem? No self-identity. One night, Linda and Steven lie in bed discussing his most recent investment—a Coney Island horror house with a Rent-A-Pet gorilla. Suddenly, Linda can no longer face him, or John, or not knowing herself. She sneaks away in their old Suburban only to find her escape complicated by Moses the Rent-A- Pet in the back. The next morning she tries dropping the gorilla at the horror house, but Moses kills, in self-defense, the old carny in charge, and Linda can't bear to see him die at the hands of the authorities. So she embarks on a quest to smuggle him to Florida, where he can be shipped abroad. Many follow her: Steven, who has turned very ugly; John, who may prefer to see her dead than to see her get away; and hordes of fortune hunters who recognize Moses' resale value. Throughout this adventure, Linda and Moses forge an unusual bond that reveals her courage, sensuality, and strength, and justifies Linda's musings on the origins of life. If it seems obvious that gorilla would represent man, Lerman (God's Ear, 1989, etc.) creates a very different and refreshing metaphor via which Linda saving Moses means saving herself. Wry, beautiful, hilarious, brave. A little didactic when Lerman talks about men and women as different species, but not enough to weigh down this otherwise effortlessly profound tale.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8050-1418-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

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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

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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

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