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MONDO MARILYN

Ebersole and Peabody (Mondo Barbie, 1993, etc.) continue their exploration of national icons with this collection of stories and poems. As the introduction points out, three decades after her death, there have been 17 plays, 14 TV movies, seven films, one ballet, a song or two, and even one opera about America's favorite blond bombshell. In these sometimes inventive, but sometimes ludicrous and often boring tales, the glorification of the enigmatic Norma Jean continues as the authors use her eternally elusive personality as an opportunity to make her up to suit their own means and play out their own abundant, and too frequently immature, fantasies. Marilyn is emulated, incorporated, molested, recalled, and forgotten. In Julia P. Dubner's ``Saturday Afternoon, June, Long Island, New York,'' she reads Ulysses, despite Arthur Miller's teasing. The strongest contributions are those in which Marilyn makes the most obvious appearance, as a starlet or icon: L.A. Lantz's ``Waiting to See,'' in which a 14-year-old's heretofore complacent mother, compelled by the infamously sultry rendition of ``Happy Birthday'' delivered to JFK, takes it upon herself to rid her community of all traces of the woman who will destroy the moral fiber of the country; and Gregg Shapiro's ``Marilyn, My Mother, Myself,'' in which a son, after coming out of the closet, becomes the recipient of every bit of Marilyn memorabilia his mother can dig up, from ashtrays to Franklin Mint dolls, and finds himself unable to break the news to her that he's never been a fan. In weak pieces, Clive Barker turns Marilyn into a blood-sucking alien, and Michael Hemmingson, in ``Twenty-six Marilyns or An Alphabet Soup Full of Marilyns or Marilyn X 26 = or A Vignette Collage of Marilyns or Just Too Damn Many Marilyns,'' makes her a literary critic. Other contributors include Doris Grumbach, J.G. Ballard, and Charles Bukowski. A couple of worthwhile efforts separated by many an oops.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-312-11853-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1994

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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