An appealing comedy delivers many laugh-out-loud moments for the reader who has dealt with a fractious toddler or attempted...

Daddy 3.0

A COMEDY OF ERRORS

A debut book chronicles the improvement of a fictional dad from the 1.0 to 3.0 versions.

When the San Francisco–based web startup company that Nick Owen works for goes belly up at the same time his wife accepts an orthopedic residency in New York City, he decides to stay at home with their 3-year-old twin daughters, at least until he can land a new job. Unfortunately, finding a position that actually pays well proves to be more problematic than he anticipated. While at first he feels overwhelmed by his full-time paternal responsibilities and alienated from his fellow stay-at-home parents (exclusively moms), Nick gradually finds his niche. Rather than being cowed by Supermom, the doyenne of the Hospital Family Association, he challenges her supremacy. Supermom, whose name is never revealed, transitions from disapproval toward Nick to outright antipathy; however, some of her cadre of friends—the cleverly nicknamed Good Heart (for her kindness) and Nifty-Fifty Wife (not explained)—come to appreciate his unique approach to parenting. If his wife, Liz, vacillates among hostility, resentment, and occasional approval, her parents are unrelentingly critical of Nick. His friendships with chef Wolfie, a friend since his undergraduate days at Berkeley, and new friend, Kelly, a gorgeous recent divorcée, buoy his spirits immeasurably. Kelly, since her divorce, feels as equally isolated from her friends as Nick does from the Hospital Family moms; however, as their friendship strays into more emotional territory, it adds additional tension to his already strained marriage. In his hilarious book, Armstrong, a Wharton School graduate–turned–stay-at-home dad, makes Nick a tremendously appealing, amusing, self-deprecating character. It is easy to understand why the hero manages to win over his critics. In contrast, Supermom is reminiscent of the popular queen bee at every high school, with a little added intelligence to make her more successful with her underhandedness. The author deftly evokes the negative side of city life with toddlers—few places for free play, the daily hassles of navigating a stroller on city streets, cramped apartments, etc.—that transforms Manhattan into more of a cage than an urban oasis.

An appealing comedy delivers many laugh-out-loud moments for the reader who has dealt with a fractious toddler or attempted to cope as an outsider in any type of clique.

Pub Date: July 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975881-0-1

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Gear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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