A powerful, lovingly rendered page-turner full of intense emotion.

PAST OBSESSION

Taylor (Stones Skipping on Water, 2017, etc.) delivers a treatise on attachment, fate, and the romance of the past in this sci-fi mystery.

Jim Mercer has been many things to many people, but he’s not a quitter. A freelance reporter and thriller author, he drifts through his early 30s until he gets an assignment from the Los Angeles Times to write a piece on Emily Torrance, a 1940s painter who was brutally murdered early in her career and whose work is now set for an upcoming exhibition. He figures that the story would make a better novel than a nonfiction piece—that is, until he sees a picture of Emily. After looking at her self-portrait and the rest of her work, he quickly becomes enraptured. While digging for more information about her life and death, he finds something shocking: an intimate film strip of Emily’s—with him in it. Armed with apparent proof that his feelings for Emily are based on something real—however impossible that may seem—Jim puts all his investigative skills toward a new task: finding out how he can travel back in time, find Emily, and find a way to save the woman he loves once and for all. The novel has the classic pacing and style of a mystery thriller, and it’s no mean feat that the tension remains high even during the portions of the book that take place in the present, well past Emily’s death. Indeed, Jim’s obsession will cause readers to long for the next piece of information, the next step that brings him closer to Emily. What’s more, Emily proves to be an intriguing character in her own right, caught between her no-nonsense attitude and her artistic vision and between high culture and the base and cruel men who often dwell in that realm. Finally, the time-travel element not only enriches the plot and gives Jim a powerful motivation for his investigations, but also allows the story to blend traits of both modern thrillers and classic noir—a truly winning combination.

A powerful, lovingly rendered page-turner full of intense emotion.

Pub Date: June 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5213-3725-7

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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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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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