Wearying.

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REMIND ME AGAIN WHY I MARRIED YOU

Bickering couple fight about everything.

Lisa Diodetto, the gutsy heroine of Pink Slip (1999), is five years older and not a lot happier. For one thing, she and hubby Eben Strauss can’t conceive a second child—not that she’s absolutely sure she wants another, since the first has adenoids. Little Danny’s loud snoring isn’t the only thing that keeps her tossing and turning at night—practical Ebb just doesn’t think much of the novel she’s writing. Okay, it is about a contemporary marriage on the rocks, but that doesn’t mean it’s their marriage. Especially since Ebb is the newly promoted Vice President of Internal Relations at his company. He used to be halfway across the country every time she ovulated; but since he’s been home so much more, routine make-a-baby sex reminds her only of the crushing disappointment of secondary infertility. Just because stay-at-home mom Lisa secretly dreams of becoming a published author doesn’t mean she wants out. Maybe she needs a project. Maybe buying a house would be a good idea. The real-estate agent is a purring blond named Cynthia Farquhar. Cynthia couldn’t possibly be interested in a middle-aged stick-in-the-mud like Ebb, could she? Not when Ebb’s tendency to constipation is explored in telling detail. Lisa broods over things like misplaced toenail clippings and the way colorblind Ebb always picks out the worst tie. Maybe that phone call from a New York literary agent will cheer her up. They meet in Manhattan for sushi, and she’s utterly put off by the way he harasses the waiter for half a portion of eel, instead of being man enough to order the whole squiggly thing. Not to mention he’s a total phony and asks her to rewrite the predictable ending of her novel. She might as well go home and keep obsessing about belches, burps, poops, farts, and turds (lots of puerile scatological humor, folks). Maybe Ebb will even get off the pot and tell her he still loves her.

Wearying.

Pub Date: June 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-33584-9

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

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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A young Irish couple gets together, splits up, gets together, splits up—sorry, can't tell you how it ends!

Irish writer Rooney has made a trans-Atlantic splash since publishing her first novel, Conversations With Friends, in 2017. Her second has already won the Costa Novel Award, among other honors, since it was published in Ireland and Britain last year. In outline it's a simple story, but Rooney tells it with bravura intelligence, wit, and delicacy. Connell Waldron and Marianne Sheridan are classmates in the small Irish town of Carricklea, where his mother works for her family as a cleaner. It's 2011, after the financial crisis, which hovers around the edges of the book like a ghost. Connell is popular in school, good at soccer, and nice; Marianne is strange and friendless. They're the smartest kids in their class, and they forge an intimacy when Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house. Soon they're having sex, but Connell doesn't want anyone to know and Marianne doesn't mind; either she really doesn't care, or it's all she thinks she deserves. Or both. Though one time when she's forced into a social situation with some of their classmates, she briefly fantasizes about what would happen if she revealed their connection: "How much terrifying and bewildering status would accrue to her in this one moment, how destabilising it would be, how destructive." When they both move to Dublin for Trinity College, their positions are swapped: Marianne now seems electric and in-demand while Connell feels adrift in this unfamiliar environment. Rooney's genius lies in her ability to track her characters' subtle shifts in power, both within themselves and in relation to each other, and the ways they do and don't know each other; they both feel most like themselves when they're together, but they still have disastrous failures of communication. "Sorry about last night," Marianne says to Connell in February 2012. Then Rooney elaborates: "She tries to pronounce this in a way that communicates several things: apology, painful embarrassment, some additional pained embarrassment that serves to ironise and dilute the painful kind, a sense that she knows she will be forgiven or is already, a desire not to 'make a big deal.' " Then: "Forget about it, he says." Rooney precisely articulates everything that's going on below the surface; there's humor and insight here as well as the pleasure of getting to know two prickly, complicated people as they try to figure out who they are and who they want to become.

Absolutely enthralling. Read it.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984-82217-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hogarth/Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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