Lively and lightly written. Not the strongest of Moody’s books but of a piece with them, offering a sardonic but...



A motivational speaker, who's often on the road dispensing wisdom though he has problems of his own, turns to reviewing hotels online—and Moody tells his story primarily through his reviews.

Thanks for the synopsis, Captain Obvious. The conceit runs deeper, for Moody’s (The Four Fingers of Death, 2010, etc.) Reginald Edward Morse—his trinomial perhaps an indication of Brahmanic tendencies and amplitude of ego—has a seeming need to criticize, sometimes fussily but usually rightly, and moreover to let the world know of it. The M&M cookies are a little stale? Send a dispatch, and then reflect and perhaps grouse: “when I am stressing, in a lecture on motivational speaking, how certain words can do a lot for you, fresh is often a word I often rely on.” Reginald has a few characteristics in common with Anne Tyler’s Macon Leary, though in The Accidental Tourist, Tyler takes a somewhat more forgiving view of us foible-philic humans. As Reginald moves from hotel to hotel and continent to continent (for, as we learn, he’s not confined to North America), we discover, detail by carefully rationed detail, more about his life: he has control issues, he has a checkered family history and a troubled daughter, he often travels with a companion, he has a thing for grits (“and I do not mean cheese grits”). All pretty ordinary, really, the failings and the accomplishments, but Moody offers both a subtle psychological portrait and even the hint of a mystery—“what I would call the mystery of Reginald Morse,” he writes with game-is-afoot breathlessness in an afterword. It’s a slyly delightful turn, considering all we’ve learned about Reginald and his views, whether on hotel pornography or the three chief shortcomings of B&Bs: “throw pillows, potpourri, and breakfast conversation.” To say nothing of gazebos.

Lively and lightly written. Not the strongest of Moody’s books but of a piece with them, offering a sardonic but entertaining look at modern American life.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-17855-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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