A lightweight, entertaining Broadway yarn.

The Role

A young New York actor finds his life imitating his art in this gay theater romance.

Mason Burroughs, an insecure, pudgy, 25-year-old actor, struggles for bit parts in Manhattan.   The only bright spot in his life is his relationship with live-in boyfriend Eric, a nice video game programmer. Through luck and connections, Mason lands the second lead in a Broadway period piece called Masque, featuring Elizabethan palace intrigue, knife play, lengthy dying soliloquies, and a hot-and-heavy bisexual love triangle. Playing the seductive Count Ezio to Mason’s ingénue soldier Caleb is Kevin Caldwell, a gorgeous, charming, selfish actor whom Mason had a fierce, unrequited crush on years ago and with whom he will now have to play a climactic nudish sex scene. Adding to the pressure are an obnoxious understudy who looks exactly like Mason and has obvious designs on his part and Kevin’s body; a stern personal trainer who gets Mason in shape with man-killing workouts and revolting organic teas; and an imperious director who puts Mason through bizarre nude theater exercises. (There is a lot of nudity in the book, not all of it germane to character development.) Mason sheds pounds and adds muscle, builds his acting chops, and spends rehearsals making out with Kevin onstage—and finds his erstwhile lust now earnestly returned. Will he dump poor Eric and succumb to the rakish Kevin like Caleb swooning for Ezio? The steamy debut novel adds an overlay of confused identity to what is essentially a fantasia, with a Cinderella makeover swirling Mason into the limelight and the affections of a previously unattainable hunk; it’s sprightly but not too deep. Mason himself is not a compelling protagonist and his relationship with Eric feels dull and bickery. Kevin, an Adonis with intriguing hidden wounds, is the more captivating and actually less narcissistic figure, and there’s a splendid supporting cast of colorful, well-drawn secondary characters. The play-within-the novel delivers an absurd plot and bad dialogue (“My liege, I have been sent from the fronts of battle, to deliver unto you, this message”), but the book offers absorbing, lively procedures, from line-reading and note-dispensing to costume-fitting and investor-schmoozing. Pearson is a fluent writer, and though his lead can’t really carry the production, the show around him grabs the reader’s attention.

A lightweight, entertaining Broadway yarn.

Pub Date: May 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59021-518-0

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Lethe Press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2016

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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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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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