THE LONG DREAM

Native Son in 1940, Black Boy in 1945 — and now The Long Dream! Taken together they reveal the tragic portrait of the Negro's source of fear and hate in relation to the white man of the Deep South. There was Bigger, who killed a white man, in Native Son; there was the story of a boy growing up in the South- and escaping to false visions of security in Chicago, in Black Boy. And here is the story of Fishbelly, who lived with fear and nourished hate, instilled by his knowledge of his father's two-faced attitude- subservience when encountering the white overlords, trickiness behind their backs, as he worked and bribed his way into riches based on "houses" supported by the handouts to the police. But fate in the form of fire caught up with him; and finally it was Tyree, Fish's father, who was tricked- ambushed to his death. Fish was doomed. He had to lie and cheat; he even had to serve two years' jail sentence, without trial, before he was sprung. And in all that time, he found only one white man he trusted. No wonder he escaped to France- and the long dream of equality his buddy Zeke held out to him. It is a powerful indictment, this, tragic and unrelieved, holding nothing of hope. It is crude and violent and bitter. It offers no solutions — and makes no bid for pity. It just states the case. Whether the public will read it or not remains to be seen. Richard Wright says what he has to say, without fear or favor.

Pub Date: June 15, 1958

ISBN: 1555534236

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1958

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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